by Mark Honey
Two names Donald Trump doesn’t want to hear these days: Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort.
Manafort was an early Trump campaign manager in the 2016 election. He faces 60 years in prison after being found guilty on 8 charges of tax and bank fraud. One case involved $15 million in unreported income from Manafort’s time as a consultant to former Ukranian president Viktor Yanukovych. Some believe Manafort’s ties to the pro-Russia Yanukovych insinuate influence peddling.
Trump’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen plead guilty to 8 counts of tax evasion, bank fraud, and illegal campaign contributions. Cohen made two separate $130,000 hush money payments to porn actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal.
In his plea, Cohen admits he was directed by “a federal candidate” to make the payments, which were designed to influence the election. This implicates Trump himself. It’s not clear what the consequences for the president are.
Neither men were tried on any charges of collusion with Russia. However, many opponents of the president are hoping one of them will flip and begin working with Special Counsel Robert Mueller (R), who leads the collusion investigation.