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.


Cliff divers leap from Beirut landmark in international tour

Updated 2 min 40 sec ago
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Cliff divers leap from Beirut landmark in international tour

BEIRUT: Cliff divers used to competing in isolated spots have been leaping into the Mediterranean in bustling Beirut, the first time the Lebanese capital’s landmark Raouche Rock has hosted an international contest.
The towering rock, also known as Pigeons Rock, is an enduring symbol of a city where many other landmarks were destroyed by the 1975-90 civil war.
“Normally when we have cliffs like this, it is in the middle of nowhere. I have never been to a place with an amazing cliff right in the city center,” said Gary Hunt, a Briton who won the men’s competition on Sunday.
The competition was the fifth of this year’s Red Bull Cliff Diving Series that began its 11th season in April on El Nido island in the Philippines and winds up in Bilbao, Spain in September.
Hunt became the first diver in the series history to receive a perfect 10 score from each of the five judges at Sunday’s competition.
In the women’s contest, Australia’s Rhiannan Iffland, 27, scored her sixth consecutive win of this series.
“It doesn’t matter how many times you perform a dive. You still get up there 22 meters (72 feet) high and you still have all these negative emotions,” said Iffland, who has been diving since she was nine.
“To overcome that fear is something that I cannot express.”
Raouche Rock has featured on the back of postcards, on stamps, in family photographs and many Arabic songs and films.
Daring Lebanese have leapt from the rock for generations. Some have also committed suicide from it.
Hundreds of spectators watched the competition, which ended on Sunday, from the adjacent rocks and promenade.
’YOUNG AGAIN’
Among them was 63-year-old fisherman Mohamed Itani, who said he had jumped off the cliff 36 times over the years for fun. “It is beautiful,” said Itani as he watched the divers. “It makes me feel young again.”
Judges mark the divers on their take-off and entry to the water and number of twists, somersaults and position in the air.
Hunt, 35, said he used to count to three just before he jumped but now just takes two breaths: one when he lifts his arms up and one when he leaps.
“There are three seconds in that air where you are just in total control. Your brain and your body decide what you do and you are completely free,” he said.
Itani described a similar feeling. “You’re like an eagle in the air,” he said.