US media: Trump Lawyer Cohen reaches plea deal with prosecutors

Michael Cohen was part of Trump's inner circle for more than a decade. (AFP)
Updated 22 August 2018
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US media: Trump Lawyer Cohen reaches plea deal with prosecutors

  • Michael Cohen, 51, was to appear in federal court in Manhattan on Tuesday afternoon
  • Reports say prosecutors were focused on more than $20 million in loans obtained by Cohen from taxi businesses

NEW YORK: US President Donald Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen has entered into a plea agreement with federal prosecutors in New York, on campaign finance violations, bank fraud and tax evasion, news media outlets reported.
Cohen, 51, was to appear in federal court in Manhattan on Tuesday afternoon, a court official told Reuters.
News that Cohen had entered into a plea agreement followed a reports he was discussing a deal with prosecutors.
A plea bargain could increase legal risks for the president, as it raises the possibility that Cohen will provide information to US Special Counsel Robert Mueller in his investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible coordination with the Trump campaign.
Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion and has called the Mueller investigation a witch hunt. Russia has denied meddling in the election. US intelligence agencies have concluded Moscow interfered.
Cohen was part of Trump's inner circle for more than a decade, working as his personal attorney at the Trump Organization and continuing to advise the president after the election. But their relationship has frayed in recent months.
Lanny Davis, a lawyer for Cohen, declined to comment. Cohen and another of his lawyers, Guy Petrillo, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the earlier reports.
The probe is being led by the office of US Attorney Geoffrey Berman in Manhattan.
Federal agents had seized documents and files from Cohen in April that stemmed from a referral from Mueller's office.
Cohen once said he would "take a bullet" for Trump, but their relationship has deteriorated since the April FBI raid on Cohen's office, hotel room and home.
The New York Times reported on Sunday that federal prosecutors were focused on more than $20 million in loans obtained by Cohen from taxi businesses owned by him and his family.
The loans are part of the investigation into whether Cohen committed bank and tax fraud, and for possible campaign law violations linked to a $130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels.
Mueller's investigation, which began in May 2017, has resulted in the indictment of more than 30 people and five guilty pleas.
Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, is on trial in Alexandria, Virginia, for 18 counts of financial crimes resulting from the Mueller probe. The jury in his case was in its fourth day of deliberations on Tuesday.


US energy secretary meets Saudi counterpart after OPEC cuts

Updated 5 min 25 sec ago
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US energy secretary meets Saudi counterpart after OPEC cuts

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s energy minister held talks Monday with US Energy Secretary Rick Perry, after the Kingdom and its allies defied US pressure to cut oil production in a bid to prop up prices.
They discussed the “state of the oil market” and energy cooperation between the two countries during a meeting in eastern Dhahran city, the minister, Khalid Al-Falih, said on Twitter.
Perry tweeted that he discussed the need for “open, free, and fair markets with the Saudis.”
OPEC members and 10 other oil producing nations, including Russia, on Friday agreed to cut output by 1.2 million barrels a day from January in a bid to reverse recent falls in prices.
The decision came even as US President Donald Trump demanded that the cartel boost output in order to push prices down.
But Al-Falih shrugged off the pressure last week, saying “we don’t need permission from anyone to cut” production.
The US “is not in a position to tell us what to do,” he told reporters ahead of Friday’s OPEC meeting in Vienna.
Last week, for the first time in decades, the United States — which is not a member of OPEC — was a net exporter of crude oil and petroleum products.
It was the latest sign of how the shale boom has lifted the US standing on global petroleum markets, prompting talk of “energy dominance” by Trump.
Perry’s visit to Dhahran came as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman unveiled state oil giant Aramco’s plan for a new energy megaproject in the area known as the King Salman Energy Park (SPARK).
The energy park is expected to attract an initial investment of $1.6 billion, Aramco said.