Donald Trump’s company is feeling the squeeze after Michael Cohen’s guilty plea, with a new report claiming that the Manhattan district attorney’s office is considering criminal charges against the company for its role in hush money payments to women claiming affairs with the president.
This week, Trump’s personal lawyer pleaded guilty to eight charges including campaign finance violations for hush money to two women who said they had affairs with Trump in the months after his son was born. Now, a new report from the New York Times claims that the state of New York is investigating two senior company officials for the role they played in accounting for reimbursements to Cohen after he paid $130,000 to adult film star Stormy Daniels.
The report said that the district attorney’s investigation is in “its earliest stages” and prosecutors are still deciding on how to proceed, if they do pursue the matter at all. This would be a significant development because, unlike Trump officials facing or convicted on federal charges, anyone brought up on state charges could not be pardoned by the president.
As the report noted, investigators are looking into whether the Trump Organization fraudulently hid the payments to Daniels and another woman, Playboy model Karen McDougal.
“The Trump Organization recorded the reimbursement as a legal expense. But Mr. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s longtime fixer, said on Tuesday that he paid Ms. Clifford, better known as Stormy Daniels, to buy her silence during the 2016 campaign. Federal prosecutors have said the reimbursement payments were for sham legal invoices in connection with a nonexistent retainer agreement. Mr. Cohen, who pleaded guilty to federal campaign finance charges, did no legal work in connection with the matter, prosecutors said.”
Donald Trump could already be facing trouble from Michael Cohen’s guilty pleas. In the guilty pleas, Cohen essentially implicates Trump in the campaign finance charges by noting that he made payments to the women on Trump’s order.
Cohen’s attorney, Lanny Davis, said that Cohen was “shaken” after Trump’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. As Vox reported, Davis said that turning point for Cohen came “as he worried about the future of our country with the president of the United States aligning with somebody who everybody in his intelligence community… said that Putin interfered and tried to help Trump get elected.”
While the Manhattan district attorney’s office may be tightening the screws on the Trump Organization, the report did not say if Donald Trump himself was a target of the investigation.