Trump’s personal lawyer and ‘fixer’, who once loyally proclaimed he does “everything in [his] power to resolve” any issue for his boss, Cohen pleaded guilty to 8 criminal counts this Tuesday and implicated Trump.
Timeline of the events that led to the guilty plea
April 9: As part of the ongoing investigation, FBI raids Cohen’s home and office
The FBI raided Cohen’s home, office and a hotel room and confiscated documents related to his finances, taxi company and payments made to women who alleged affairs with Trump.
In particular, investigators sought information relating to the $130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels – whose real name is Stephanie Clifford – who claimed she had a one-time sexual encounter with Trump in 2006 while he was married to Melania. She alleged she was paid by Cohen in 2016 ahead of the presidential election.
Trump has denied the affair. Regarding the raid, he expressed his anger on social media, saying “attorney-client privilege is dead.”
April 11: Cohen would “rather jump out of building” than turn on Trump
During lunch with executive and television personality Donny Deutsch at Barneys in Manhattan, Michael Cohen reportedly said he would “rather jump out of a building than turn on Donald Trump.
April 26: Special master appointed to oversee Cohen’s documents
Following U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood denial for Cohen’s team to review the information taken, a federal judge appointed a so-called special master tasked with overseeing the handling of information and materials seized from Cohen.
April 27: Judge puts Stormy Daniels lawsuit on hold
A federal judge decided to put the lawsuit against Cohen – brought by Stormy Daniels – on hold for 90 days. Judge S. James Otero said he came to the decision because the civil case would most likely overlap with the criminal investigation.
May 11: Cohen no longer represents Trump
According to Rudy Giuliani, Cohen no longer represented Trump as his personal attorney.
May 22: Cohen’s associate pleads guilty
Evgeny Freidman, known as the “taxi king” in New York, pleaded guilty to pocketing $5 million in passenger fees that were supposed to help fund public transportation. Friedman at one time managed cabs Cohen owned.
According to media reports, part of his plea agreement required him to cooperate with any ongoing investigation.
Cohen distanced himself from Friedman on social media, saying the pair had “never been partners in this business or any other.”
June 15: Trump expresses confidence in Cohen
During an exchange with reporters outside the White House, Trump said he was not “worried” because he “did nothing wrong.”
Trump also said while he hadn’t spoken to Cohen in “a long time,” but he thought Cohen was a “good person.”
June 20: Cohen resigns from RNC post
Cohen stepped down from his position as deputy finance chair of the Republican National Committee’s Finance Committee, citing the ongoing investigation.
July 2: Cohen puts his family first
Cohen began to seemingly distance himself from the president in an interview with ABC News as he stressed his family is his first priority.
“My wife, my daughter and my son have my first loyalty and always will,” he said. “I put family and country first.”
Cohen also said, “I will not be a punching bag as part of anyone’s defense strategy. I am not a villain of this story, and I will not allow others to try to depict me that way.”
He also reportedly told ABC he does not like the term “witch hunt” – which Trump has repeatedly used to describe the Russia investigation – and said he doesn’t agree with those who “demonize or vilify the FBI.”
July 24: Tape of Cohen and Trump discussing payments released
A recording of Trump and Cohen discussing a payment to a woman who said she had an affair with the real estate mogul was leaked. Cohen has been accused of secretly recording Trump.
Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model, said she had a “consensual, loving relationship” with Trump in 2006. She was paid $150,000 to kill her story of the alleged relationship; the White House has denied the affair.
On the recording, which was made prior to the 2016 presidential election, Cohen tells Trump: “I need to open up a company for the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend David,” adding he has consulted Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg “about how to set the whole thing up.”
Cohen told Trump, “We’ll have to pay,” and Trump said something about paying “with cash,” although that part of the audio is not clear. Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani later said, Trump was telling Cohen, “Don’t pay with cash.”
Aug. 19: Bank fraud investigation revealed in reports
The New York Times reported federal investigators were probing whether Cohen committed bank fraud on more than $20 million worth of loans as well as violated campaign finance laws.
Particularly, investigators were looking into the possibility Cohen misrepresented assets in order to obtain loans from Sterling National Bank and the Melrose Credit Union. At issue, as well, was how Cohen’s company handled dozens of taxi medallions and if income from those were properly reported to the Internal Revenue Service.
The Times report also said prosecutors were looking into whether Cohen violated campaign finance laws by securing deals with women who claimed they had affairs with Trump.
Aug. 21: Cohen pleads guilty to 8 criminal counts, implicates Trump
Cohen struck a deal with prosecutors to plead guilty to charges including campaign finance fraud, bank fraud and tax evasion. Cohen stated that he and Trump arranged the payment to porn star Stormy Daniels and a former Playboy model to influence the election.
Cohen pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance law as well as tax evasion and making false statements to a financial institution.
Cohen could have received up to 65 years in prison if convicted of all charges. However, as part of his plea deal, Cohen agreed not to challenge any sentence between 46 and 63 months. The deal does not involve a cooperation agreement with federal prosecutors.
Aug. 22: Trump bashes Cohen on social media
Trump seemingly implied Cohen fabricated “stories in order to get a ‘deal’” in a tweet that referenced Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman who was convicted of eight bank and tax fraud charges on the same day Cohen pleaded guilty.
“I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family. “Justice” took a 12 year old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him and, unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to “break” – make up stories in order to get a “deal.” Such respect for a brave man!”