President Donald Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen on Tuesday pleaded guilty to eight criminal counts on Tuesday and admitted to a federal court that he violated campaign finance law "at the direction" of then-candidate Trump "for the principal purpose of influencing the election."
"Cohen's guilty plea directly implicates President Trump," Common Cause president Karen Hobert Flynn said in a statement. "Michael Cohen has learned that no American is above the law, even when his client is the President of the United States. Cohen's actions on behalf of Donald Trump are reflective of a presidential administration, and campaign that preceded it, that has repeatedly conducted itself as if it is somehow about the law and ethical responsibilities."
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) indicated the development should prompt the FBI to investigate the matter further:
In light of the guilty plea by Michael Cohen that directly implicates @realDonaldTrump in a felony campaign finance violation, here again is the letter from @RepKathleenRice & I asking the @FBI to investigate this very issue in March. Life moves fast. https://t.co/hpkXc7bmky
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) August 21, 2018
Cohen's two campaign finance violations relate to the hush-payments he made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal to prevent them from going public with their claims that they had affairs with Trump.
*COHEN SAYS HE VIOLATED CAMPAIGN LAW AT DIRECTION OF CANDIDATE
*COHEN DOESN'T NAME CANDIDATE WHO DIRECTED CAMPAIGN VIOLATION
hint: it's @realDonaldTrump
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— Jennifer Epstein (@jeneps) August 21, 2018
Upshot: Cohen admits that payments to Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels were made at the direction of "candidate" and violated restrictions corporate contributions and contribution limits.
— Joe Palazzolo (@joe_palazzolo) August 21, 2018
Count 7 is Karen McDougal
Count 8 is Stormy Daniels https://t.co/VzhRb7zteE
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) August 21, 2018
As the New York Times reports, the plea deal "does not call for Mr. Cohen to cooperate with federal prosecutors in Manhattan, but it does not preclude him from providing information to the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, who is examining the Trump campaign's possible involvement in Russia’s interference in the 2016 campaign."
Responding to the Cohen guilty plea as well as the eight guilty verdicts for Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort, Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) wrote, "Paul Manafort—found guilty. Michael Cohen—pleads guilty, implicates Donald Trump. Donald Trump has nominated a Supreme Court justice who believes he can't be indicted. Not a coincidence. Not a witch hunt."