Counts one through five are for tax evasion on some $4.3 million worth of income; count six, false statement to financial institution; count seven, willful cause of unlawful corporate contribution; and count eight, excessive campaign contribution. Reuters reported that the plea bargain includes a prison sentence of up to five years and three months, however, without a plea bargain Cohen could've faced up to 65 years.
The former longtime lawyer of Trump said in court that at the direction of the "candidate for federal office" he arranged payments "for principal purpose of influencing election." Cohen's excessive campaign contribution was said to have taken place on October 27, 2016, which line up with hush payments made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels and Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal, Deputy US Attorney Robert Khuzami said following the announcement. Both Daniels and McDougal were paid $130,000 and $150,000, respectively, in exchange for keeping quiet on their sexual relationships with Trump.
"He worked to pay money to silence two women who had information that he believed would be detrimental to the 2016 campaign and the candidate in the campaign," Khuzami told reporters, explaining that Cohen sought his reimbursements by submitting false invoices. "These are very serious charges and reflect a pattern of lies and dishonesty over a long period of time."
Cohen is free pending his sentencing. The 51-year-old lawyer pleaded guilty hours after news broke that he would be entering into a plea deal with federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York on Tuesday.
Cohen was reportedly under investigation for a several charges including tax fraud and other banking-related crimes. According to the New York Times, federal investigators were looking into more than $20 million in loans obtained by a taxi business owned by Cohen and his family. Officials investigated hush payments Cohen had arranged with women who allegedly had sexual encounters with Trump.
Per ABC News, information from Cohen could be beneficial to special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and any collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian actors. However, it is still unclear whether Cohen will cooperate.
Images showing barricades being posted near the Manhattan federal court surfaced online ahead of reports of Cohen's plea deal.
— erica orden (@eorden) August 21, 2018
FBI agents raided Cohen's office, hotel room and home in April and seized various electronics and documents, including some related to the $130,000 payment made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. Stephen Ryan, Cohen's lawyer, earlier indicated that the seizure was done "in part, a referral by the office of special counsel Robert Mueller."
Cohen's ties to Trump began in the mid-2000s after he sided with Trump in a legal dispute with the condominium board at the Trump World Tower in Manhattan. At the time, Cohen had owned several condos in Trump's buildings, according to ABC News. He later went on to work for the Trump Organization.