Nation & World

Ex-Trump lawyer Cohen, in guilty plea, says he made payments at candidate's direction to 'influence 2016 election'

U.S. President Donald Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, leaves the Daniel Patrick Moynihan United States Court House in the New York City borough of Manhattan, U.S. August 21, 2018.  REUTERS/Amr Alfiky
U.S. President Donald Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, leaves the Daniel Patrick Moynihan United States Court House in the New York City borough of Manhattan, U.S. August 21, 2018. REUTERS/Amr Alfiky

NEW YORK — U.S. President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to campaign finance violations and other charges, saying he made payments to influence the 2016 election at the direction of a candidate for federal office.

Cohen, 51, appearing in federal court in Manhattan, pleaded guilty to one count of willfully causing an unlawful corporate campaign contribution and one count of making an excessive campaign contribution.

He said he arranged to make payments “for (the) principal purpose of influencing (the) election” at the direction of a candidate for federal office but did not give the candidate’s name.

Cohen, who agreed to a plea bargain with federal prosecutors earlier in the day, also pleaded guilty to five counts of tax fraud and one count of making false statements to a financial institution.

His voice cracked as he answered questions from Judge William Pauley III.

Federal prosecutors in New York began investigating Cohen after a referral from U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who has been investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible coordination with the Trump campaign.

(Reporting by Brendan Pierson and Jonathan Stempel; Writing by Jonathan Oatis; Editing by Susan Thomas and; James Dalgleish)

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