Yesterday, Michael Cohen implicated Trump in campaign finance violations and entered a guilty plea that will see him serve jail time. His lawyer has told MSNBC that Cohen will fully cooperate with Mueller's investigation.

By Daniel Herborn

Posted on August 23, 2018

“When I decided to represent Mr. Cohen it was because he committed to me earlier on…that he wanted to tell the truth about Donald Trump,” Cohen’s attorney Lanny Davis told Rachel Maddow on MSNBC.

“It’s the truth that Michael Cohen is committed to and it’s the truth that so threatens the President of the United States, who has consistently lied on this issue, denied knowing about these payments until Rudy Giuliani, his lawyer, waiving attorney-client privilege, said: ‘Oh, he knew about the payments’ directly contrary to the lie on Air Force One,” Davis said.

The Air Force One comments Davis refers to saw the President deny any payment had been made to porn star Stormy Daniels. The President made those comments in April 2018.

By May 2018, he had changed his story on the payment and acknowledged Daniels was paid US$130,000 but denied any affair with her and denied campaign funds had been used.

Davis’ words are likely to send a chill through the Trump administration.

Davis would not be drawn on whether Mueller and his team had contacted Cohen but said his client “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, not just about the obvious possibility of a conspiracy to collude and corrupt the American democracy system in the 2016 election.”

Davis suggested Cohen had knowledge about the contentious Trump Tower meeting and also about hacking carried out against Hillary Clinton’s campaign. He said his client felt relieved and liberated after making the admissions in court.

“From now on, you are going to see Michael Cohen speaking truth to power,” Davis said.

Trump on Cohen’s admissions of campaign finance violations

On Fox & Friends, Trump said there was nothing illegal about the payments to two women for their silence because they “weren’t taken out of campaign finance”.

“That’s a much bigger thing,” he said. “Did they come out of the campaign? They didn’t come out of the campaign; they came from me.”

That contradicts Cohen’s admission that the payments were illegal.

Trump took to Twitter to fire off pot shots at Cohen, suggesting that nobody should hire him as a lawyer.

He also compared Cohen unfavourably to Paul Manafort, his former campaign advisor. Manafort did not make admissions of guilt but was still convicted on eight charges of bank fraud, tax fraud and failing to disclose a foreign bank account. He is currently awaiting sentencing, with jail time considered extremely likely.

“Unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to “break” – make up stories in order to get a “deal.” Such respect for a brave man!” Trump wrote.

A “big, big problem” for Trump

Analysis from CNN suggests even if Trump’s own funds were used for the hush money, this would constitute an illegal loan to his campaign.

“In fact, my first question when I heard about it was did they come out of the campaign because that could be a little dicey,” Trump said. “They didn’t come out of the campaign and that’s big. But they weren’t – that’s not a – it’s not even a campaign violation.”

Analyst Chris Cillizza concluded that “Trump, at some level deep down, knows that Cohen’s plea deal — specifically as it relates to the hush money payoffs — is a big, big problem for him.”

Davis said it was absolutely a crime for Trump to direct Cohen to commit campaign finance violations. He asked why Trump did not write or sign cheques to the women himself if he was so certain the payments were legal.

Davis also said his client would not be accepting a presidential pardon from Trump under any circumstances.