Michael Cohen Was Subpoenaed In A Case Against Trump's Charity — And He's Reportedly Talking
One day after pleading guilty to eight criminal counts, President Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen was subpoenaed by New York state investigators, the Associated Press reported Wednesday. The subpoena came as part of the New York Attorney General's lawsuit against the Trump Foundation — and shortly after receiving it, Cohen immediately replied to state officials, according to the New York Daily News.
“We can confirm that a subpoena has been issued to Michael Cohen for relevant information in light of the public disclosures made yesterday,” James Gazzale, a spokesman for the state’s tax department, said in a statement. "We will be working with the New York Attorney General and the Manhattan District Attorney, as appropriate."
New York prosecutors have accused the Trump Foundation — ostensibly a charitable organization — of using donations to settle legal claims against Trump, aid Trump's presidential campaign and, in one instance, purchase a $10,000 portrait of Trump for display at one of his golf clubs. Trump has denied the allegations, calling the case "ridiculous" and criticizing the "sleazy New York Democrats" who brought it against him.
Cohen was Trump's personal attorney for years, and used to describe himself as the president's "fixer." Although it's unclear exactly why New York investigators issued the subpoena, Cohen's attorney Lanny Davis said on CNN Tuesday that Cohen "has information about Mr. Trump that would be of interest both in Washington as well as New York state."
Earlier on Wednesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo addressed Cohen's potential involvement in the state's probe.
"The state has an investigation on the Trump Foundation," Cuomo told reporters at a public event, "and [Cohen's] lawyer went out of his way to say Cohen would be forthcoming on both federal and state investigations."
Through a statement from her spokeswoman, New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood said that her office can't comment on "potential or ongoing investigations," but will nevertheless "hold Donald Trump and his associates accountable for violations of state law, and will seek a criminal referral from the appropriate state agency as necessary."
Underwood's office can't press state charges against the Trump foundation until it receives a referral from a state agency, according to King 5 News. To that effect, Cuomo directed the state's tax department to investigate the foundation shortly after Underwood announced her office's probe.
On Tuesday, Cohen pleaded guilty to eight felonies unrelated to the Trump Foundation probe, including two campaign finance violations. During his hearing, he testified under oath that in 2016, a candidate for federal office directed him to break campaign finance laws by paying $280,000 in hush money to two women who claimed to have had affairs with the candidate in question. Cohen added that he made this payment with the goal of influencing the upcoming presidential election.
Although Cohen himself didn't identify the candidate who gave him these orders, Davis subsequently made clear that he was talking about Trump.
"Today [Cohen] stood up and testified under oath that Donald Trump directed him to commit a crime by making payments to two women for the principal purpose of influencing an election,” Davis tweeted on Tuesday. “If those payments were a crime for Michael Cohen, then why wouldn’t they be a crime for Donald Trump?”
Cohen said in court that the women in question were Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, both of whom claim that they had affairs with Trump when he was married. Trump and the White House have denied both of these claims.
Cohen was released on $500,000 bail, and will be sentenced for his felonies on December 12th.