Trump told Cohen to commit a crime, says Cohen's lawyer

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By Chris Harris  & Emma Beswick
Trump told Cohen to commit a crime, says Cohen's lawyer

An attorney for Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer who pleaded guilty in New York on Tuesday to campaign finance violations and other charges, said Trump directed Cohen to commit a crime.

"Today he stood up and testified under oath that Donald Trump directed him to commit a crime by making payments to two women for the principal purpose of influencing an election," Cohen's attorney Lanny Davis said in a statement.

"If those payments were a crime for Michael Cohen, then why wouldn't they be a crime for Donald Trump?" Davis added.

Donald Trump’s ex-lawyer Michael Cohen has pleaded guilty to breaking campaign finance laws at the 'direction of a candidate for federal office'.

Cohen, 51, appearing in federal court in Manhattan, pleaded guilty to one count of willfully causing an unlawful corporate campaign contribution and one count of making an excessive campaign contribution.

He said he arranged to make payments "for (the) principal purpose of influencing (the) election" at the direction of a candidate for federal office. He did not give the candidate's name.

Cohen, who agreed to a plea bargain with federal prosecutors earlier in the day, also pleaded guilty to five counts of tax fraud and one count of making false statements to a financial institution.

Cohen's deal includes a possible prison sentence of up to five years and three months, Judge William Pauley III said during the hearing.

It comes the same day as Trump’s ex-campaign chief, Paul Manafort was found guilty of tax and bank fraud.

Trump avoided mentioning either Cohen or Manafort during the opening of a campaign rally in West Virginia. 

He instead focused on illegal immigration, NFL players' response to the national anthem and the US-Mexico border wall.