Michael Cohen Claims He Pled Guilty on Tax and Fraud Changes Because Prosecutors “Had [Him] on Campaign Finance”; Did His Lawyers Give Him Bad Advice?

In a recent Slate piece, I noted some of the issues with going after President Trump on campaign finance charges related to hush money payments, charges to which Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty. I added: “Cohen might have pleaded guilty to these crimes rather than fight them raising these potential defenses because he was already pleading to other charges and saw no point in contesting these, which allowed him to attack the president as a co-conspirator in a criminal enterprise.”

And yet now in a secretly recorded phone conversation with actor Tom Arnold, Cohen said the opposite. According to the WSJ, which got to hear the recording, “Speaking privately with Mr. Arnold, Mr. Cohen said he had pleaded guilty to the charges in August because ‘they had me on campaign finance’ and prosecutors were targeting his wife. Mr. Cohen had failed to disclose to the Internal Revenue Service more than $2.4 million in interest payments he had received from loans, some of which were deposited in an account under his wife’s name, New York federal prosecutors wrote in a court filing. Mr. Cohen’s wife declined to comment.”

Given the legal questions about the campaign finance charges, I wonder about the legal advice Cohen has received.

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