Cohen reaches plea deal in tax fraud case: reports

Longtime Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen has reached a plea deal with federal prosecutors in Manhattan regarding banking and tax fraud allegations, according to multiple reports.

The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York’s office is running the probe, but any cooperation could extend to other federal investigations.

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Beyond the banking and tax fraud charges, Cohen is being investigated for campaign finance violations for his role in alleged payments he coordinated to women who claimed to have had sexual encounters with President TrumpDonald John TrumpGrassley: Dems 'withheld information' on new Kavanaugh allegation Health advocates decry funding transfer over migrant children Groups plan mass walkout in support of Kavanaugh accuser MORE in order to buy their silence about their allegations.

In July, it was revealed that Cohen had secretly taped a conversation with Trump two months before the election in which they discussed paying for the story of a former model for Playboy who has said she had an affair with Trump. 

The woman, Karen McDougal, sold her story to the National Enquirer, but the tabloid never published the story — a practice known as "catch and kill." On the tape, Trump and Cohen discussed buying that story from the Enquirer.

Cohen also allegedly arranged to pay adult-film star Stormy Daniels for her silence about an alleged affair with Trump.

The lawyer was once Trump's fixer, but the relationship between the two men has since become strained as Cohen has publicly signaled a willingness to flip on Trump.

In interviews, Cohen has said that his first loyalties are to his family and children, and to his country. 

Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani have since launched attacks on Cohen, questioning his character and integrity. 

Giuliani has hurled insults at Cohen, calling him a "scoundrel" and saying that he has lied all his life.

The investigation being handled by authorities in New York came after a referral from special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE's investigation.

Cohen is expected in court at 4 p.m.

It was not immediately clear if Cohen has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. 

Cohen’s plea deal could pose significant legal ramifications for Trump.

Federal agents raided Cohen’s office and hotel room in April and seized documents, electronics and recordings. Trump called the raid, which was approved partly based on a referral from Mueller’s office, an “attack on our country.”

While Cohen has been fiercely loyal to the president, vowing in a September 2017 interview that he would “take a bullet” for Trump, signs in recent months have pointed toward the possibility he would cooperate with prosecutors.

In the tape released in July, Trump appears to say at one point, “pay in cash," though that portion of the audio is unclear.

The recording, which aired on CNN, prompted a change in tone from the president and Giuliani. The two men previously cast doubt on the chances Cohen would flip on the president, saying he had “no concerns” about what Cohen would tell prosecutors.

"The man is a pathological manipulator, liar. I didn't know that," Giuliani said last month after the tape aired. "I knew nothing bad about Michael Cohen until all of this started to happen in the last couple weeks."

Giuliani, who represents Trump in the Russia investigation, said last month that Trump's legal team is aware of 183 separate conversations that Cohen recorded. Of those, he said Trump is "discussed at any length" on 11 or 12, and is only recorded on one tape.

Cohen also reportedly claimed that Trump knew of the July 2016 Trump Tower meeting involving his son and a Russian lawyer. The meeting has become a flashpoint in Mueller’s investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.

The president, who has largely avoided commenting on Cohen’s legal woes, rejected that claim, alleging his former fixer was “trying to make up stories in order to get himself out of an unrelated jam.”

Updated at 2:55 p.m.