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Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to eight counts Tuesday after reaching a plea deal with federal prosecutors who were investigating his business dealings in New York.

President Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer pleaded guilty to five counts of tax evasion; one count of lying on a bank loan application; one count of causing an unlawful corporate contribution “in coordination with and at the direction of” a candidate; and one count of making an excessive campaign contribution.

Standing before a packed courtroom in lower Manhattan, Cohen himself told U.S. District Judge William Pauley that he committed the campaign finance crimes “for the purpose of influencing the 2016 election.”

Cohen faces up to 65 years and heavy financial penalties if he receives the maximum sentence for the crimes. A sentencing hearing was scheduled for December 12.

Cohen and his legal team, led by attorney Guy Petrillo, agreed to what’s called an information set forth by the prosecution in lieu of facing jurors at trial.

“Are you pleading guilty to each of those counts because you are guilty?” Pauley asked Cohen at several points during the proceedings.

“Yes, sir,” a somber Cohen replied.

Cohen is set to be released on $500,000 bail. He must surrender any firearms and ammo within 24 hours. His travel will be limited to the northern district of Illinois, the southern district of Florida, Washington, D.C. and the eastern and southern districts of New York. A judge must sign off on any other travel.

Cohen appeared to be in good spirits toward the beginning of the hearing, but he shook his head and looked down as the proceedings progressed.

The judge asked Cohen whether he understood that pleading guilty would result in Cohen giving up certain civil rights, such as the right to vote. When Cohen responded “yes, sir,” his voice broke. Petrillo patted him on the back.

News of Cohen’s plea deal began trickling out earlier Tuesday.

It’s uncertain whether Cohen’s plea means he will cooperate with prosecutors by providing information relevant to other cases. In September of last year, Cohen said he would take a bullet for Trump. 

The New York Times reported Cohen’s deal “does not include cooperation with federal authorities,” according to two unnamed people familiar with the matter.

CNN, citing an unnamed source, said Cohen “was not expected to cooperate with the government,” as part of a deal under discussion earlier Tuesday.

Prosecutors were investigating $20 million in loans that Cohen took out in 2014 to fund his taxi medallion businesses. They were reportedly examining if he misrepresented his income to obtain those loans, and if he underreported his income from the taxi businesses on federal tax forms.

In additional to Cohen’s personal financial dealings, prosecutors are looking into the hush money payments he made during the 2016 election to women who claimed to have carried out affairs with Trump.

This post has been updated.

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ALEXANDRIA, VA — U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis instructed the jury in the Paul Manafort case to keep deliberating, after the jury sent him a question about what they should do if they cannot come to a consensus on an individual count. Manafort is facing 18 counts as part of the special counsel Robert Mueller’s case against him.

“If you shall fail to agree on a verdict, this case will be left open and undecided,” Ellis said, reading an instruction from an appellate case dealing with this issue.

Before the jury was brought in to receive Ellis’ instruction, the judge let the lawyers on both sides of the case read the question, which the jury sent to the judge at around 11 a.m. Tuesday morning, and the instructions he planned to read them, known as Sawyer instructions. He also signaled that if the jury continued to struggle to come to a consensus on one or more of the counts, he might at a later time call the jurors back in and ask them how many counts they have been able to reach an agreement.

Neither the prosecutors nor the defense had an objection to Ellis’ move to read the instructions.

Kevin Downing, an attorney for Manafort, brought up an additional query the jury had posed in its question: the jurors sought another verdict form. Downing said he thought it would be appropriate for them to be given a new form that would give them a third option — for a hung jury or otherwise — on each count, in case they couldn’t reach an agreement.

Greg Andres, a prosecutor for Mueller’s team, said that he would object to that idea. Ellis said that he agreed with Andres, since at this point in time the purpose of the instructions was to see that they reach a unanimous verdict.

If they report back later on that they’re still struggling to agree, “Then we will cross that bridge at that time,” Ellis told Downing.

The instructions Ellis read the jury sought to remind them “how desirable” it would be for them to unanimously reach a verdict. He said that it did not appear the case could be tried any better or more exhaustively. Any other jury would have gone through the same selection process, Ellis said, so there is no reason to believe the case could go to a jury more competent and conscientious.

He urged the jurors to carefully consider the evidence and reexamine their own views while listening to the views of the other jurors. If a majority of the jurors believe that the defendant is guilty on a count, then the dissent should consider whether their doubts about the verdict are reasonable ones, Ellis said. If a majority or even a lesser number of jurors are for acquittal, dissenting jurors should consider whether the evidence fails to provide the proof necessary.

“You are not partisans. You’re judges,” Ellis said. He said it was the jurors’ duty to reach a verdict but that they should not violate their convictions.

The question came on the jury’s fourth day of deliberations. The prosecutors spent more than two weeks laying out their case — albeit with a fews hours of interruption for closed door hearings on a sealed matter. The defense did not call any witness of its own.

Manafort has pleaded not guilty to all charges. There’s an additional case in D.C., alleging Manafort engaged in a money laundering conspiracy and that he failed to disclose foreign lobbying, that is set to go to trial in mid-September.

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By December 2015, Paul Manafort had a plan.

His lucrative income from consulting in Ukraine had dried up, with the exile of his top client. His attempt to pivot by representing a new Ukrainian political party made up of the remnants of the old coalitions had failed to take off, and he was struggling even to pay his taxes.

As a Dec. 22, 2015 email to his accountant and his bookkeeper indicated, he was turning to borrowing from banks — in what special counsel Robert Mueller has alleged were ultimately fraudulent loan applications — to stay afloat. Manafort informed his outside financial help that he was taking out loans on two properties — loans that would eventually be at the heart of the special counsel’s bank fraud case against him.

A loan on his condo in SoHo would allow him to pay off loans against his credit line, including loans to fund a movie his daughter directed. A loan on a townhouse he bought in Brooklyn would let him finish construction on the property, while paying back his mortgage on his Trump Tower apartment.

Three months later, Manafort and Donald Trump would become more than just neighbors.

In March, Manafort would join the GOP candidate’s campaign, quickly rising to become its chairman, while scrambling behind the scenes to secure funds from the banks, using, according to prosecutors, a series of misrepresentations including falsified financial documents and “lies” about the use of the properties.

In his attorneys’ retelling, Manafort had delegated the details to outside professionals he employed, and the alleged falsities were merely clerical errors. If the banks had any concerns about lending to Manafort, or if his accountants questioned his tactics, they certainly didn’t say so to authorities.

“Nobody came forward to say we’re concerned about what we’re seeing here. Not until the special counsel showed up and started asking questions,” Manafort attorney Richard Westling said during last week’s closing arguments.

Regardless, what the two and half week trial has borne out is that while Manafort was leading a presidential campaign, he was also working to secure millions of dollars in desperately needed financing and to maintain the appearance that he was an extraordinarily wealthy individual.

By the summer of 2016, his two objectives — electing Trump and securing loans to ease his financial woes — had become intertwined.

The prosecutors have offered for the jury, currently deliberating, hundreds of pages of exhibits documenting not only the financial crunch Manafort was in when he took the Trump campaign job, but how he continued to leverage his proximity to Trump to woo lenders, even after his departure from the campaign. Regardless of the jury’s verdict on the bank fraud and tax fraud charges, we now have a much clearer picture of the dire straits Trump’s campaign manager found himself in before and during the campaign, and the allegedly illegal steps he took to get himself out of it.

‘How Could I Be Blindsided Like This?’

It’s not entirely clear when Manafort realized the depth of the financial hole he’d dug himself, but his money troubles had manifested by April 2015, while he was preparing his 2014 tax return.

“WTF?” Manafort wrote in an email, after learning from right-hand man Rick Gates that his tax bill would be around a half millions dollars. “How could I be blindsided like this? You told me you were on top of this. We need to discuss options. This is a disaster.”

Gates, originally a co-defendant in Mueller’s case against Manafort, flipped and testified against his old boss at the Virginia trial.

After years of allegedly hiding his income from the IRS through the use foreign accounts, according to prosecutors, Manafort took the alleged tax fraud scheme further, asking his accountants to disguise some of his income as loans so that he wouldn’t have to pay taxes on the money.

His bookkeeper, Heather Washkuhn, testified that around this time he was having trouble paying his bills, including the invoices for her services.

“I had asked multiple times for bills to be paid and there wasn’t enough funds to pay them,” she said, while questioned by prosecutors about repeated emails she sent Manafort seeking authorization for her to pay various obligations.

One such email included an April 2016 plea from the bookkeeper asking for funding to pay health insurance premiums for Manafort’s business.

In another January 2016 email, Gates asked Washkuhn to transfer $76,000 from Manafort’s line of credit to his consulting firm’s account.

“There is zero availability” on the line of credit, she replied. Other documents offered during the trial revealed the that Manafort’s firm, according to the records kept by Washkuhn, had made less than $400,000 in 2015 and had reported a net loss of more than $1 million in 2016.

That lack of income posed a problem for Manafort as he embarked on negotiations for his loans.

David Fallarino, a loan officer at Citizens Bank, informed Manafort in February that he “fail[ed] the liquidity test.” A day later, the bank’s underwriter wrote Fallarino skeptical about Manafort’s business tax returns: “The business did not have the liquidity to disperse these $’s.”

According to prosecutors, Manafort and Gates got around these impediments by backdating documents to prove that money shown as a loan on Manafort’s taxes — it was, in fact, never a loan to begin with, his accountant testified — had been forgiven and thus should be counted as income.

But that was only the start of their accounting tricks, according to the government’s case. Manafort described his SoHo condo as a residence — prosecutors put forward evidence that it was listed on AirBnB — because claiming it as a second home would allow Manafort to seek the “maximum benefit” in loan applications, he told Gates in an email.

Gates, allegedly at the instruction of Manafort, misled the bank about the existing mortgages on Manafort’s other properties. Manafort closed on a $3.4 million loan from Citizens Bank, though a second loan he pursued from the bank was denied. He also successfully sought a $1 million construction loan from the Banc of California that spring.

As part of the Citizens Bank negotiations, Gates fretted to Manafort that “we are not going to get even close to the income level of 2014,” as the bank indicated would be necessary in order to be approved for the loan. Gates admitted in testimony he had doctored the financial statement for Manafort’s businesses to show more than $6 million more in income than what the firm had received in 2015. A chain of March 16 emails released during the trial capture Gates frantically seeking a digital version of the statements created by Manafort’s accounting firm that would have allowed him to make the edits.

Manafort attorneys in the trial defended the submission of the inflated financial statements, arguing that the millions were income Manafort had earned and was expecting to receive later that year.

‘I Look To Your Cleverness’

Through this financial scramble, Manafort gave few, if any, public hints of being hard up for cash. On March 22, he renewed his business’ Yankees season tickets for a seven-year term for more than $200,000. When he was hired by then-candidate Trump a week later, Manafort declined to take a salary.

After he joined the campaign, he remained cc-ed on email conversations during which, prosecutors allege, Gates and others continued to make false representations about his financial status.

There are some vague references to the new responsibilities he had taken on by leading the Trump campaign; an April 2016 email from a Citizens Bank employee asking Gates to write a letter for Manafort’s loan application notes that Manafort’s hands are “full.”

Manafort’s attorneys have argued that by depending on Gates to handle his financial affairs, he trusted the wrong person. Gates has admitted to embezzling from Manafort’s business.

Regardless, by July, Manafort had taken matters into his own hands while applying for loans from Federal Savings Bank. Its CEO, Steve Calk, learned that the Trump campaign chairman was seeking to borrow from his bank from one of his employees, who testified that he told Calk about the Manafort referral because he knew Manafort was “involved in politics” and “Steve was interested in politics.”

Calk and Manafort had a series of meetings, many without any other bank employees present; Calk personally approved the terms of loans Manafort proposed.

“He was directly involved,” the employee, Dennis Raico, testified, while claiming he had never seen Calk get involved in the details of any other loans he’d worked on for the bank.

Calk approved a loan application the day after a July 27 meeting with Manafort where he told Manafort he was interested in helping Trump, according to Raico’s testimony.

A week later, Manafort reached out to Calk, “[p]er our conversation,” about serving on Trump’s campaign as an economic advisor, a position Calk accepted enthusiastically.

On Aug. 19, Manafort was ousted from the Trump campaign as his political work in Ukraine and the money he had earned fell increasingly under scrutiny. But Manafort and Calk stayed in contact. At lunch with Calk, according to an Oct. 7 email presented at trial, Manafort apparently misstated the details of one of his existing mortgages by $1 million. He emailed Calk to tell him he would not be able to come up with the cash to cover the $1 million difference, as another bank employee indicated he would need to do.

“I look to your cleverness on how to manage the underwriting,” Manafort said.

The negotiations over that particular loan would fall through, but Calk would push for a revised $9.5 million proposal for Manafort that would close in mid-November.

As part of those negotiations, Manafort would continue to misrepresent his company’s earnings, according to prosecutors. A set of emails from Oct. 21 introduced at trial show Manafort seeking Gates’ help in converting a financial document for his companies’ year-to-date earnings that year into a word file, allegedly to edit it. That “REVISED” financial statement, as one of Manafort’s emails to Gates called it, showed his firm earning more than $3 million in income through Sept. 30, 2016. The financial statement also misspelled the words “September” and “review.”

On Nov. 15, the day before the loan closed and less than a week after the election, Calk sent Manafort a memo pitching himself for a position in Trump’s cabinet, and included a ranking of jobs he would prefer. Army Secretary topped the list. Two weeks later, Manafort emailed Trump son-in-law and top advisor Jared Kushner recommending Calk for Army Secretary.

Calk would never get a job in the Trump administration; it does appear, according to one email shown at trial, that he at least scored tickets to the inauguration. Scrutiny of Manafort and his Ukraine work continued, meanwhile, as questions about the campaign’s Russia ties moved front-and-center in the press.

But Manafort would get one more loan, this one for $6.5 million, approved by Federal Savings Bank in January 2017. Part of the loan was a construction loan on the Brooklyn townhouse that Manafort told his accountants he was seeking more than a year earlier.

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The Virginia jury deliberating the fate of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort left the courthouse Monday without delivering a verdict.

The jury deliberated until about 6:15 p.m. ET Monday, raising speculation that they were close to a verdict since they typically end the day a bit earlier. However, the jurors will return Tuesday morning at 9:30 a.m. ET for their fourth day of deliberation.

Deliberations in the case began Thursday morning. The jury laid off around 5 p.m. ET on Thursday and Friday. On Thursday, the jurors ended the day with a series of four questions for the judge. On Friday, they broke early because a juror had an event to attend.

After taking the weekend off, the jury resumed deliberations Monday shortly after 9:3o a.m. ET.

Manafort faces multiple counts of bank fraud and tax fraud in the federal criminal case, the first case to go to trial in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.

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Multiple news reports over the weekend helped fill in the details about the nearly completed federal criminal investigation into Michael Cohen.

The probe into President Trump’s former fixer, referred to the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office by special counsel Robert Mueller, is reportedly in its final stages. Charges could come by the end of this month, and will likely touch on campaign finance violations and loans Cohen received for his taxi businesses.

Key entities have been subpoenaed, witnesses have testified before a grand jury, and prosecutors have pored over the reams of documents and emails seized from Cohen’s premises.

All that remains to be seen is whether prosecutors cut a plea deal with Cohen, or hit him with everything they’ve got.

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ALEXANDRIA, VA — The jury in the Paul Manafort bank and tax fraud trial ended the week without a verdict. They will continue deliberations at 9:30 a.m. ET Monday.

The jury asked to be dismissed a bit early on Friday, at 5 p.m. ET, because one of the jurors had an event later in the evening. Judge T.S. Ellis granted the jury’s request, noting with a smile that he was letting them out 5 minutes ahead of their proposed time.

Ellis instructed the jury not to discuss the case with anyone or “undertake any investigation” on their own.

“Put the case out of your minds until Monday,” he told the jury.

The jury has so far spent two days deliberating in the case. Late Thursday afternoon, the jury asked the court for clarification on several issues related to the charges Manafort faces. The questions related to the requirements to file FBAR reports; a definition of “shelf” companies; clarification of the term reasonable doubt; and whether the exhibit list could be linked up to reflect counts Manafort faces.

Manafort has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Kevin Downing, a defense attorney for Manafort, responded to those questions favorably on Thursday.

“They’re great questions,” he told TPM. He said they showed the jury was working through the “complicated” issues in the case.

President Trump weighed in on the trial against his former campaign chairman Friday before leaving the White House.

I think the whole Manafort trial is very sad,” Trump told reporters. “When you look at what’s going on there, I think it’s a very sad day for our country. He worked for me for a very short period of time. And you know what? He happens to be a very good person. I think it’s very sad what they’ve done to Paul Manafort.”

Outside the courtroom, Downing told reporters that Manafort’s team “really appreciates the support of President Trump.”

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ALEXANDRIA, VA — The judge presiding over the federal bank and tax fraud case against Paul Manafort on Friday declined to release the names of the jurors serving in the trial.

Judge T.S. Ellis cited threats jurors have received over the course of the trial, which begun about three weeks ago.

“I don’t feel right” about releasing the names, Ellis said.

Ellis was responding to a lawyer representing several media organizations that are seeking to unseal records in the case — including the identities of the jurors, transcripts of bench conferences between lawyers and the judge and a third category that is under seal because it relates to an ongoing investigation. Ellis did not specify the nature of the investigation.

Matthew Kelley, the lawyer representing the news organizations, argued in a hearing on the sealed records that there should be a presumption of openness when it comes to the names of the jurors. Kelley said there had not been any specific threats against the jurors, to which Ellis shot back, “I can tell you there have.”

Ellis added that he has also received threats, and is traveling with a U.S. marshall out of fear for his personal safety.

While the judge expressed sympathy with the media organizations’ desire for records to be available to the public, Ellis said if the court releases the names of the jurors, it could preclude people from participating in future “cases with notoriety.”

Manafort was in the courtroom during the hearing.

The jury continued to deliberate for a second day Friday. Late Thursday, the jury sought clarification on several issues related to the charges against Manafort.

Manafort has pleaded not guilty to all charges.


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The federal judge in Virginia overseeing the trial of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort signaled Friday that he is amenable to unsealing some of the records in the case that media organizations are seeking.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis said his intention is eventually to unseal everything except for a few names and medical details.

“I made it clear at the time that these matters would not be permanently under seal. I don’t do things to keep from being scrutinized and criticized,” Ellis said.

Ellis said he will hold a hearing on the matter Friday afternoon. Media organizations were seeking to intervene in the case to obtain access to the sealed records.

“I’m no stranger to criticism. But this case has brought it to a new level,” Ellis added, drawing laughter in the courtroom.

The motion by new organizations:

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Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has been referred to as the “king of voter suppression” and “the most racist politician in America today.”

As of Tuesday, after a chaotic week of ballot-counting and threats of a recount, Kobach is also the Republican nominee to become the state’s governor.

This was the outcome Democrats wanted. Whereas Kobach’s opponent, Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, was seen as an electable, middle-of-the-road Republican, Kobach is a lightning rod. Kobach’s years-long war against phantom voter fraud and close ties to President Trump have made him a polarizing figure saddled with liabilities, presenting Democrats with an in.

But nonpartisan political scientists say that, thanks to a variety of factors, Kobach is actually favored to defeat Democratic state Sen. Laura Kelly. Rather than vanquishing a politician loathed by progressives nationwide, Democrats may wake up in November with Kobach running the state.

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