President Donald Trump’s former longtime lawyer Michael Cohen is working on a deal with federal prosecutors in Manhattan that could be cut as soon as Tuesday, NBC News reported.
Cohen is the focus of a criminal investigation in the Southern District of New York into whether he violated campaign-finance laws, committed bank fraud or wire fraud, engaged in illegal lobbying, or participated in other crimes. He is reportedly discussing a possible guilty plea with investigators in connection with bank and tax fraud, multiple sources familiar with the investigation told NBC News.
The sources told NBC that no deal had been reached but that the sides could agree on a possible deal in the immediate future — as soon as Tuesday.
A person close to Lanny Davis, an attorney for Cohen, told Business Insider they could not comment on the NBC News report. Davis told NBC News he could not comment on advice of counsel because of the ongoing nature of the investigation.
Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The potential deal could have major implications for the president. In recent weeks, Cohen has signaled a willingness to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
How we got here
The FBI raided Cohen’s home, hotel room, and office in April, seizing more than four million documents from Trump’s longtime lawyer.
Those documents then underwent an extensive, months-long review for claims of attorney-client privilege, a process that recently concluded. A minuscule fraction of the documents were protected by privilege, while the remainder were handed over to the government for use in a potential prosecution of Cohen.
At the center of the investigation is the $130,000 hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, which Cohen facilitated just before the 2016 presidential election to keep her quiet about her allegation of an affair with Trump in 2006 — an allegation Trump has denied. The FBI sought documents related to that payment and similar arrangements with other women.
The Times reported that the Cohen investigation reached “the final stage,” with prosecutors weighing whether to file charges before the end of August.
Mitchell Epner, an attorney at Rottenberg Lipman Rich and a former federal prosecutor in the US Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, told Business Insider in a Tuesday email that if Cohen reaches a plea deal, “the most important question is whether it is a ‘cooperating’ plea deal.”
“Sometimes the prosecution is able to hide the cooperation agreement from public view,” Epner said. “On the other hand, the people who have pled guilty to charges brought by special counsel Mueller have had their cooperation agreements made public at the time that they entered their pleas.”
Roland Riopelle, a partner at Sercarz & Riopelle who was formerly a federal prosecutor with the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, told Business Insider in an email Monday that the brief five-month delay between the FBI’s raids and potential charges signaled to him that “this may be a cooperation plea agreement.”
“If the matter was contested, the delay could be longer before charges were returned,” he said, adding that the recent “silence from Cohen and his lawyers is also something that weighs in favor of a cooperation deal.”