Prosecutor: Michael Cohen Learned 'A Very Harsh Lesson' About Justice And Rule Of Law

Robert Khuzami, who prosecuted the case against Michael Cohen in the Southern District of New York, outlined the charges to which Michael Cohen pled guilty today in his plea agreement. Two of those charges involved payments to women during the 2016 presidential campaign. Khuzami emphasized the rule of law, and that while these crimes are significant on their own, they are made worse by their having been committed by lawyer - who should know better than anyone that he is not above the law.

Transcript below:

With me is Bill Sweeney, Assistant Director in charge of the New York field office of the FBI, and James Rodna, who is the Supervisory Agent in charge of the New York office of the IRS. Also with me are the prosecutors from the United States Attorney's office in the Southern District of New York who prosecuted the Cohen matter. I'm going to have a brief statement and will not be taking any questions. Today as you heard, Michael Cohen pled guilty to eight felony charges. Five of those dealt with tax evasion for the years 2012 through 2016 in which he failed to report approximately $4.1 million in reported income. Approximately 2.5 of that money was from interest payments from a personal loan that he failed to report. Approximately $1.3 million of that money was from the operation of his taxi medallion business, approximately $100,000 of that money was from brokerage commissions. And over $200,000 was from consulting fees. That's over $4.3 million over a five-year period, which translates into a loss to the United States Treasury of approximately $1.3 million. In addition, in count 6 Mr. Cohen pled guilty to making false statements to a financial institution in connection with an application for a home equity line of credit. In that application he failed to disclose more than $14 million in debt that he had, and as a result of that concealment he obtained that $500,000 line of credit which he would not have been entitled to had he been candid and honest. In addition, Mr. Cohen pled guilty to two campaign finance charges, one for causing an unlawful corporate contribution and a second one for personally making an excessive personal contribution, both for the purpose of influencing the 2016 election. In addition, what he did was he worked to pay money to silence two women who had information that he believed would be detrimental to the 2016 campaign and to the candidate and the campaign. In addition, Mr. Cohen sought reimbursement for that money by submitting invoices to the candidate's company which were untrue and false. They indicated that the reimbursement was for services rendered for the year 2017 when in fact those invoices were a sham. He provided no legal services for the year 2017 and it was simply a means to obtain reimbursement for the unlawful campaign contribution. A couple of points I'd like to make, first these are very serious charges and reflect a pattern of lies and dishonesty over an extended period of time. They are significant in their own rights. They are particularly significant when done by a lawyer, a lawyer who through training and tradition understands what it means to be a lawyer, to engage in honest and fair dealing and adherence to the law. Mr. Cohen disregarded that training, disregarded that tradition, and decided that he was above the law and for that he's going to pay a very, very serious price. With respect to the campaign finance violations, the campaign finance laws are designed to prevent the use of illegal money in elections and to maintain the integrity of those elections. Mr. Cohen made guilty pleas for those campaign violations, and those are core violations. And what he did was these pleas remind us that it is illegal for corporations to make contributions to candidates and it is illegal to make contributions in excess of the amount that Congress set for individuals. That is a strong message today, and we will not be -- we will not fear prosecuting additional corporation -- campaign finance cases. Lastly and perhaps most importantly, this case is unique in many ways. Just witness the gathering of all of you here today. And in other ways it's unique as well. But in really important ways this case is not unlike many cases that my office, the United States Attorney's office, brings, that the entire Department of Justice brings and that the law enforcement agencies do as well, including the FBI and the IRS. This case has more in common with all those cases because they all share the same message. And that message is that the rule of law applies and that for law enforcement, all all of whom are gathered here, it is our commitment that we will pursue and vindicate those who choose to break the law and vindicate the majority of people who live law-abiding lives, who follow honest and fair dealing and live lives of lawful behavior. The message is that we are here, prosecutors are here, law enforcement is here, the Department of Justice is here, the law enforcement agencies here. We are a nation of laws and the essence of this case is about is justice and that is an equal playing field for all persons in the eyes of the laws and that is a lesson that Mr. Cohen learned today and it is a very harsh one for him. Thank you very much.


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