Michael Cohen, President Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer, obtained access to as much as $774,000 during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to public records obtained by the Wall Street Journal. The increased financial headroom was obtained via two transactions, doubling a credit line linked to his Manhattan apartment, and getting a new mortgage on another property owned by his wife’s parents. The transactions are among those being examined by federal prosecutors and the FBI as they investigate whether Cohen broke any laws while working to suppress damaging news stories about Trump — like his alleged affair with porn star Stormy Daniels — during the campaign.
Cohen, whose offices and home were raided by the feds early last month, has said that he used his home-equity credit line to make a $130,000 hush payment to Daniels less than a month before the election in 2016. Documents related to that payment were among those that investigators had sought in the raid, and the Justice Department subsequently announced that Cohen’s business dealings had been under investigation for months.
In addition to looking into whether Cohen broke campaign finance laws in using his own money to get rid of the president’s dirty laundry, the Journal reports that prosecutors are also investigating whether Cohen committed bank fraud by making false statements about the value of his assets, or misstated the intended purpose of his loans.
As Adam Schuman, a former federal prosecutor, commented to the Journal, “If [Cohen] didn’t anticipate using these funds to assist with these types of third-party payments [in the service of Trump], then why did he still have the funds to pay Stormy Daniels if they were intended for some earlier, innocuous purpose?”
It also seems that President Trump has been caught lying about whether or not he knew about the payment to Daniels. The New York Times reported on Friday that when Trump denied knowing about it in April, he had in fact known for months. And Trump’s newest legal team member and foot-in-mouth enthusiast, Rudy Giuliani, said this week that the president had reimbursed Cohen for the payment to Daniels, contradicting Cohen’s previous claims that he did the good deed without coordination with Trump. The president quickly acknowledged the payment, but said it didn’t involve campaign money and that Cohen was paid via retainer. Giuliani has since tried to walk back his admission, after first explaining that he was following a Trump-agreed-upon plan to release that information.