(CBS NEWS) – Former longtime Trump attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty in federal court in Manhattan Tuesday to eight counts — five counts of tax evasion, one count of making false statements to a financial institution, one count of willfully causing an unlawful corporation contribution, and one count of making an excessive campaign contribution at the request of a candidate.
Cohen’s sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 12, with bail set at $500,0000. The news comes the same hour Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was also found guilty on eight counts — five counts of tax fraud, one count of failing to disclose a foreign bank account, and two counts of bank fraud.
Cohen surrendered himself to the FBI in New York and is now in the custody of federal authorities. He entered federal court in Manhattan for a 4 p.m. proceeding.
This has been expected to be a straight plea deal to resolve the case against him. But any cooperation from Cohen could help him during sentencing. Cohen went back and forth all morning over whether to take the deal.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was made aware of tax charges against Cohen but did not need to sign off or approve them. The IRS and DOJ tax division have to approve tax charges, while the deputy attorney general is merely consulted and kept in the loop.
Investigators have been probing whether Cohen committed bank or tax fraud in connection with his financial and business dealings including loan activities. Investigators have also been interested in whether Cohen violated any campaign finance-related laws by helping arrange payment deals to secure the silence of women who claimed they had affairs with Mr. Trump.
NBC News first reported Tuesday that Cohen was engaged in negotiations over a possible plea deal.
Cohen has had a front-row seat to Mr. Trump’s business dealings for years. And as CBS News has previously reported, Cohen has indicated he is willing to tell special counsel Robert Mueller that Mr. Trump was aware of the 2016 Trump Tower meeting before it took place, although he has shown no evidence to support this claim.
The president has lashed out against Cohen without naming him on Twitter, after news broke that Cohen had secretly recorded conversations with him.
As pressure mounts, Trump’s ex-attorney turns aggressive
Cohen, as CBS News has previously reported, has been under intense pressure to cooperate with federal investigators. The investigation into Cohen is separate from Mueller’s investigation into Russian election meddling and any ties to Trump associates, but Mueller did refer potential evidence to the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan.
No charges have been filed yet as a result of the investigation into Cohen.
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