Two of United States President Donald Trump’s closest former aides face jail time after admitting to fraud on Tuesday. Their statements also accused Trump of conspiring to commit campaign fraud during the 2016 presidential elections.
Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty in a New York court to eight counts of making illegal campaign contributions, AFP reported. Cohen admitted that he made pre-election hush payments, including to adult film star Stormy Daniels. Without naming Trump, he said he made the payments “in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office”.
“If those payments were a crime for Michael Cohen, then why wouldn’t they be a crime for Donald Trump?” Cohen’s attorney Lanny Davis tweeted following his client’s admission.
Meanwhile, a jury in Virginia found Trump’s former campaign chairperson Paul Manafort guilty on eight fraud charges, The Guardian reported. This includes five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud and one count of failure to report a foreign bank account. Some of the frauds were committed while Manafort was working for Trump.
Manafort, who could spend decades in prison, escaped conviction on 10 out of 18 counts. His advocate, Kevin Downing, said his client was “disappointed at not getting acquittals all the way through or a complete hung jury on all counts”.
Multiple analysts have called the events the “worst hour” of Trump’s presidency.
Trump called the conviction a “witch hunt”, AFP reported. “This has nothing to do with Russian collusion [in the US elections],” Trump said. “These are witch hunts and it’s a disgrace,” he told reporters ahead of a rally in Charleston, West Virginia.
The president tweeted hours later:
Since winning the 2016 election, Trump’s national security adviser, lawyer, campaign chairman, deputy campaign manager and a foreign policy aide have admitted or been convicted of crimes, The Guardian said.