Donald Trump brands his convicted ex-fixer Michael Cohen a liar

Micheal Cohen is under investigation over bank and tax fraud

Micheal Cohen is under investigation over bank and tax fraud

Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to eight felonies in a Manhattan courtroom on Tuesday, including two campaign finance violations stemming from payments he made to Stephanie Clifford (aka Stormy Daniels) and Karen McDougal, who said they had affairs with Trump in 2006 and 2007.

The charges against Cohen, an attorney for Trump until earlier this year and a member of his inner circle throughout his presidential campaign, bring a climactic end to a months-long investigation by the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of NY.

In a statement, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani said: "There is no allegation of any wrongdoing against the president in the government's charges against Mr. Cohen".

Earlier on Wednesday, Trump lashed out on Twitter, slamming Cohen, who has signaled a willingness to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Cohen said in court Wednesday that he was directed by a "candidate for federal office" - which many have assumed to be Trump - to make the hush payments, reopening a debate about whether a president can be indicted.

Talk of a plea deal comes days after The New York Times reported that Cohen is also under investigation for potential tax and bank fraud, possibly exceeding $20 million via loans obtained by the taxi medallion business he owns with his family.

He didn't respond to reporters' questions about Cohen.

A summit between the two leaders in Helsinki in July was the final straw for Cohen, his lawyer Lanny Davis told Sky News, prompting him to seriously question Mr Trump's loyalty to the United States and suggesting "almost a mental instability in the man".

Cohen once said he would "take a bullet" for Trump, but their relationship has deteriorated since the April FBI raid on Cohen's office, hotel room and home. Pecker then contacted Cohen, and Cohen negotiated with the woman's attorney to "purchase [her] silence" for $130,000.

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Trump said that he did not believe that the hush-money payments amounted to a violation of campaign finance law, and suggested he was being unfairly targeted by the Justice Department.

No charges have been filed yet as a result of the investigation into Cohen.

Cohen's lawyer Lanny Davis meanwhile indicated in morning television interviews that Cohen would not seek a pardon from Trump and had information to share with federal prosecutors that could damage the president.

Meanwhile, leaked documents showed that Cohen was paid millions a year ago by companies such as AT&T and Novartis to provide advice about the new administration.

The pair's convictions take the count of Trump campaign figures who have pleaded or been found guilty of a crime to five.

Prosecutors had been investigating Mr Cohen for possible fraud related to his businesses for months.

Mueller's team, which is looking into Russian interference in the 2016 USA presidential election, came across the some of the evidence against Cohen in the course of its investigation and referred the matter to federal prosecutors in NY. One said Trump asked aides how the news was playing.

He also elaborated about the role former Trump fixer Michael Cohen might play going forward amid his plea deal.

This article was written by Devlin Barrett, Renae Merle, Philip Bump and Carol Leonnig, reporters for The Washington Post.

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