Fi­nan­cial crimes

AP sources say pros­e­cu­tors pre­par­ing charges against Co­hen

The Western Star - - OBITUARIES/ WORLD - BY TOM HAYS

Michael Co­hen, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s for­mer per­sonal lawyer, could be charged be­fore the end of the month with bank fraud in his deal­ings with the taxi in­dus­try and with com­mit­ting other fi­nan­cial crimes, two peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the fed­eral probe said Mon­day.

The peo­ple con­firmed re­ports that fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors in Man­hat­tan were con­sid­er­ing charg­ing Co­hen af­ter months of spec­u­la­tion over a case that has been a dis­trac­tion for the White House with the midterm elec­tions ap­proach­ing.

The peo­ple, who weren’t au­tho­rized to dis­cuss the case and spoke on Mon­day on con­di­tion of anonymity, re­fused to an­swer ques­tions about spec­u­la­tion Co­hen still might strike a plea deal with pros­e­cu­tors re­quir­ing his co-op­er­a­tion.

Ab­sent a quick res­o­lu­tion, it’s be­lieved that pros­e­cu­tors would put off a de­ci­sion on how to go for­ward with the case un­til af­ter the elec­tion in com­pli­ance with an in­for­mal Jus­tice Depart­ment pol­icy of avoid­ing bring­ing pros­e­cu­tions that could be seen as po­lit­i­cal and in­flu­ence vot­ers.

Both the U.S. at­tor­ney’s of­fice and an at­tor­ney for Co­hen, Lanny Davis, de­clined to com­ment Mon­day. There was no im­me­di­ate re­sponse to a mes­sage seek­ing com­ment from Ster­ling Na­tional Bank, one of the in­sti­tu­tions that loaned Co­hen money.

The New York Times re­ported Sun­day, based on anony­mous sources, that pros­e­cu­tors have been fo­cus­ing on more than US$20 mil­lion in loans ob­tained by taxi busi­nesses that Co­hen and his fam­ily own.

Co­hen had gained no­to­ri­ety as Trump’s loyal “fixer” be­fore FBI agents raided his of­fice and a ho­tel where he was stay­ing while ren­o­va­tions were be­ing done on his apart­ment in a Trump-de­vel­oped build­ing.

Pros­e­cu­tors were ini­tially silent about why Co­hen was un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Some de­tails be­came public af­ter lawyers for Co­hen and Trump asked a judge to tem­po­rar­ily pre­vent in­ves­ti­ga­tors from view­ing some of the seized ma­te­rial, on the grounds that it was pro­tected by at­tor­n­ey­client priv­i­lege.

The search of Co­hen’s files sought bank records, com­mu­ni­ca­tions with the Trump cam­paign and in­for­ma­tion on hush money pay­ments made in 2016 to two women: for­mer Play­boy model Karen McDou­gal, who re­ceived $150,000, and the porn ac­tress Stormy Daniels, who got $130,000.

At the time, Trump branded the raid “a witch hunt,” an as­sault on at­tor­ney-client priv­i­lege and a po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated at­tack by en­e­mies in the FBI.

But the pres­i­dent’s ini­tial sup­port for Co­hen de­gen­er­ated over the sum­mer into a public feud, prompt­ing the spec­u­la­tion that, in or­der to save him­self, Co­hen might be will­ing to tell pros­e­cu­tors some of the se­crets he’d help Trump keep.

AP PHOTO

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, with first lady Me­la­nia Trump and their son Bar­ron, ar­rives at the White House in Wash­ing­ton on Sun­day af­ter spend­ing the week­end at his golf club in Bed­min­ster, N.J.

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