Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen reached an agreement with U.S. attorneys of the Southern District of New York on Tuesday in a plea deal that included counts related to the “hush money” payments made to two women who claimed to have had affairs with then-businessman Donald Trump many years ago.
One of those women is former porn star Stormy Daniels — real name Stephanie Clifford — who said that she felt “vindicated” by the Cohen plea deal.
NBC News reported that as part of the deal, Cohen pleaded guilty to eight separate counts that included bank fraud, tax evasion and campaign finance violations, which were in reference to the payments made by Cohen to Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal.
In a statement to NBC, Daniels said that she and her attorney, Michael Avenatti, “are vindicated and we look forward to the apologies from the people who claimed we were wrong.”
How ya like me now?! # teamstormy
— Stormy Daniels (@StormyDaniels) August 21, 2018
Emboldened by Cohen’s plea, Avenatti tweeted, “We. Are. Coming.”
We. Are. Coming. We are going to end this dumpster fire of a presidency one way or another. https://t.co/URJXR0aehx
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) August 21, 2018
Cohen is alleged to have used part of a home equity loan to pay Daniels $130,000 during the 2016 campaign in order to buy her silence with regard to an alleged affair she had with Trump more than a decade ago. Cohen’s payment to Daniels was later reimbursed by the Trump organization.
Campaign finance violations?
Prosecutors argued in the plea deal that the Cohen payments to Daniels and McDougal — who was reportedly paid $150,000 for her silence about an alleged affair in a joint deal involving Cohen and the National Enquirer tabloid — were made “at the direction of a candidate” for the “principal purpose of influencing” the 2016 election.
In response to the plea deal, President Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani stated, “There is no allegation of any wrongdoing against the president in the government’s charges against Mr. Cohen. It is clear that, as the prosecutor noted, Cohen’s actions reflect a pattern of lies and dishonesty over a significant period of time.”
Trump said Wednesday that the payments “didn’t come out of the campaign, they came from me.”
“I tweeted about it,” he added, in reference to his tweet in May, when he said that “money from the campaign, or campaign contributions, played no roll in this transaction.”
Cohen potentially faced upwards of 65 years in prison when all eight felony counts in the plea deal are added up, but prosecutors only recommended he be sentenced to 3-5 years for the alleged bank fraud and tax evasion. The alleged campaign finance violations would likely only draw a civil fine and not come with any prison sentence.
This arrangement is certainly bad news for Cohen — though he could be facing significantly more prison time if he’d gone to trial and lost — and while it isn’t necessarily good news for President Trump, it isn’t the earth-shattering, draw up impeachment papers, we’ve-finally-got-him-now kind of trouble for Trump that the media would have you believe.