Washington: US President Donald Trump’s ex-lawyer, Michael Cohen, is said to be “more than happy” to speak to the inquiry into alleged collusion with Russia. Cohen pleaded guilty on Tuesday to violating finance laws during the 2016 presidential election by handling hush money for Trump’s alleged lovers.
Cohen is ready to “tell everything about Donald Trump that he knows”, his personal lawyer, Lanny Davis, said, BBC reported on Wednesday. Trump has argued that Cohen had made up stories in order to get a deal. The president denies there was any collusion with Russia to get him elected. In an interview with Fox & Friends, the president said he had found out about the payments “later on”, and that they did not come out of the campaign. In July, Cohen released audio tapes of him and Trump allegedly discussing payments to a former playboy model before the 2016 presidential election.
Cohen, who has been Trump’s personal lawyer for more than a decade, has pleaded guilty to eight criminal charges, including tax evasion, bank fraud and campaign finance violations. He said he had paid hush money to two women who alleged they had affairs with Trump, at the direction of “the candidate” – a clear reference to Trump. Cohen said the payment was made for the “principal purpose of influencing (the 2016) election”. Cohen has reached a plea deal with prosecutors, which may see his prison sentence reduced from 65 years to five years and three months.
Investigators have also demanded Cohen appear in court as part of a separate probe into the Trump Foundation, US media report. On the same day that Cohen pleaded guilty, a jury convicted former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort of bank and tax fraud charges. It was the first criminal trial arising from the justice department probe, led by former FBI chief Robert Mueller. Mueller has been investigating allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election, and whether the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to swing the election in his favour. Russia has denied claims it interfered in the elections. Trump has responded to both the Cohen and Manafort cases with a series of tweets criticising Cohen and praising Manafort.