The United States Justice Department said on Friday that President Donald Trump made illegal payments to two women before the 2016 elections. In court filings, prosecutors also revealed that a Russian citizen had attempted to help Trump’s presidential campaign, Reuters reported.
In court, the New York prosecutors and attorneys representing Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russia’s alleged interference in the president’s campaign, made their case for why Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, and his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, deserve imprisonment. In August, Cohen had pleaded guilty to violating finance laws during the 2016 elections, including by paying off adult an film star, Stephanie Clifford, to keep quiet about her affair with Trump. That same month, a jury in Virginia found Manafort guilty of eight fraud charges, including some he committed while working for Trump.
“In total, the prosecutors seem to be saying the president was more aware than he has claimed to be,” former federal prosecutor Michael Zeldin told Reuters.
On Friday, federal prosecutors told the court that Cohen had made payments to Clifford and former Playboy model Karen McDougal “in coordination with and at the direction of” Trump, AFP reported. US District Judge William Pauley will decide upon Cohen’s sentence on December 12.
Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein said the revelations “outline serious and criminal wrongdoing, including felony violations of campaign finance laws at the direction of President Trump”.
However, Trump accused federal investigators of conflict of interest, and alleged they had presented no evidence for their claims. White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders called Cohen a liar and claimed the findings offered nothing that was not already known.