27 August, 2018
Cohen, who pleaded guilty Tuesday to tax evasion, bank fraud and campaign finance violations, has turned against his former client, claiming Trump directed him to pay off two women who say they had affairs with the billionaire realtor in 2006.
In February 2017, Cohen sent "Executive-1" an invoice seeking two monthly payments of $35,000 "pursuant to [a] retainer agreement, " according to court documents. But for Trump - who has long demanded loyalty from those around him - the revelations have only added to long-simmering fury about the investigations that began with questions about Russian election meddling but have broadened from there.
Such payments could be considered illegal campaign contributions under federal election law. His sentiments were echoed by his colleague Peter Hart, who said this weeks news "represents a fools gold opportunity rather than a silver bullet solution" for those hoping for Trump's demise.
For context, NBC News compared the percentage of voters aware of the Manafort and Cohen stories to that of the "Bridgegate" scandal that hobbled former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
The president's story about Cohen's payments has changed multiple times over the past year, and in the Fox interview he tried several ways of defusing the allegations.
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Weisselberg has worked for the Trump family for more than four decades, including as treasurer for the Donald J. Trump Foundation.
An attorney for Cohen didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
Cohen, the Journal reported, was likely referring to creating a shell company to make a payment in return for silence, presumably regarding former Playboy model Karen McDougal.
As part of that probe, Cohen's offices were raided and investigators looked into his finances. One of the executives is American Media chief executive officer David Pecker, a long-time Trump friend. Cohen has indicated he may cooperate with that inquiry.
While Trump denies the affairs, his account of his knowledge of the payments has shifted. "He's sitting behind the Resolute Desk and he can push a button and get a Coke but he can't control Michael Cohen".
When respondents were told that six members of Trump's campaign team - including Cohen and Manafort - had now been found guilty or pled guilty to crimes, 40 percent of registered voters said they believed the crimes could potentially extend to the president.