Cohen questioned for hours in Mueller probe about Trump’s dealings with Russia: report

President Trump’s former longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen has reportedly been questioned about Trump’s dealings with Russia by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team in a series of interviews in recent weeks.

ABC News reported Thursday that Cohen has sat for hours of interviews with Mueller’s team, saying they have mainly focused on Trump’s financial and business dealings with Russia and Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 election.

{mosads}Cohen pleaded guilty last month in federal court in Manhattan to bank and tax fraud, as well as campaign finance law violations relating to payments to buy the silence of two women claiming they had affairs with Trump in 2006. Cohen told the court that he violated campaign finance laws at Trump’s direction.

ABC reported that Cohen voluntarily agreed to sit for the interviews, which took place both in Washington, D.C., and New York. Prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York — where Cohen pleaded guilty — also attended some of the interviews.

The special counsel’s office declined The Hill’s request for comment.

In addition to the Mueller investigation, Cohen has reportedly cooperated with a separate investigation led by New York state investigators into the Trump Foundation.

The New York attorney general filed a lawsuit earlier this year alleging that the family charity essentially functioned as a piggy bank for the family.

Cooperation in neither investigation has come with a guarantee of a lighter sentence for Cohen, but it could spell legal trouble for the president.

The lawyer worked for years as one of Trump’s closest associates in the Trump Organization, including working closely on a deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow up through mid-2016, though the project ultimately fell through.

Cohen reportedly told lawmakers that he had stopped working on the project in January 2016 when he decided the “proposal was not feasible for a variety of business reasons and should not be pursued further.”

In addition, Cohen admitted in his guilty plea that he facilitated payments to two women who allege they had affairs with Trump in order to keep them quiet during the 2016 presidential campaign. He claimed Trump knew of the payments, and that they were intended to influence the election.

Trump has denied knowing about the payments at the time they were made, and has asserted that they did not break the law.

While Cohen’s plea deal did not include a cooperation agreement, his attorney, Lanny Davis, indicated that Cohen would be willing to work with the special counsel.

“Mr. Cohen has knowledge on certain subjects that should be of interest to the special counsel and is more than happy to tell the special counsel all that he knows,” Davis said the day Cohen pleaded guilty.

Davis declined to comment further to The Hill.

“No inference should result from his no comment,” a spokesperson for Davis said.

Trump has bashed the Mueller investigation as a “witch hunt” that is based on bias against him. Upon Cohen’s guilty plea, the president lashed out at his former associate, claiming that flipping to cooperate with investigators “almost ought to be illegal.”

Reports that Cohen is working with prosecutors come roughly a week after former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort agreed to cooperate with Mueller as part of a plea deal to avoid a second trial on federal charges.

Manafort was convicted in his first trial on bank and tax fraud charges. The verdict was delivered almost simultaneously to when Cohen entered his guilty plea in Manhattan.

—Updated at 6:26 p.m.

Tags Cohen plea deal Donald Trump Paul Manafort Robert Mueller Special Counsel investigation
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