Donald Trump’s lawyer: ‘Biggest dud’ interviewed

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, said the documents cover three mortgages and are part of a government filing as part of its investigation

President Donald Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, has said about $10m (£7.6m) has been paid out in relation to payments made to women linked to Trump’s alleged sexual relationships.

The FBI seized the documents in a raid on Mr Cohen’s home, office and hotel room.

Legal commentator Charles D Harlow says Mr Cohen is an unreliable character, and the documents are “largely a dud”.

He believes it’s only a matter of time before the president faces a lawsuit.

Mr Harlow, who has been a lawyer, civil litigator and commentator since 1972, has worked for several TV networks and on several books, including the best-selling Securing The Presidency.

Having written a book on Donald Trump’s presidency in 2015, Mr Harlow has been involved in several media pieces about the president, his legal team and the legal process surrounding him.

How is Michael Cohen mentioned in these documents?

He is one of three people involved in payouts to the women, claiming their privacy had been violated.

They are Karen McDougal , a former Playboy Playmate of the Year, whose alleged relationship with Trump began in 2006, and Stormy Daniels , a porn star who says she had an affair with Trump in 2006.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Michael Cohen is involved in two of three alleged payouts

There are other allegations of sexual impropriety too, although Mr Trump has strenuously denied those.

It is not clear what was in the documents related to Mr Cohen, but they appear to be related to his work as a lawyer.

How does he fit into the American justice system?

Mr Cohen was thrust into the spotlight after it was reported the US President’s lawyer was involved in allegedly paying Stormy Daniels in exchange for her silence.

Mr Cohen is another name associated with the “Hush Money” scandal.

The move provoked an immediate reaction of anger from Mr Trump himself. Mr Cohen said: “These are old, recycled reports, which were published and strongly denied prior to the election.

“I have never instructed anyone to break the law.”

Are these alleged payments corrupt?

Charles D Harlow agrees. He says it is very significant that the raids on the Trump Organisation, and the documents related to Mr Cohen, appear to be part of a wider investigation.

The accusations have clearly had repercussions. President Trump has called it a “witch hunt”.

Image copyright AFP Image caption Charles D Harlow believes Donald Trump will eventually face a lawsuit

On the law, he explained that Mr Cohen was not a “sealed grand jury witness” under the US constitution but is subject to the law as a lawyer or public official.

“With respect to a claim of fraud, no one has ever claimed that these payments had anything to do with a Trump Organisation action,” Mr Harlow says.

“If the payments came from Mr Cohen’s own pocket and occurred because of his judgement, then you might be able to argue that there was corruption.

“But now we’re not going to get that straight.”

There have been a few objections from Republicans, who have compared the raids to the Watergate scandal, but more generally the reaction has been one of deep silence.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Michael Cohen has also had to fend off accusations from Democratic lawmakers

Legal experts are predicting that the US criminal investigation into President Trump could spread to other areas of his life.

If these alleged payments are an attempt to “buy silence” then there are many other potentially corrupt deals that could be revealed.

“It’s not about opening a criminal case. It’s about getting a foothold in the criminal inquiry,” Mr Harlow said.

“You’re using the investigative tools that have been taken from the intelligence community.

“The new president is the powerful defendant.”

Does this mean the end of Mr Cohen’s career?

In one of the alleged $130,000 payments to Ms Daniels , the $130,000 was paid by R&A Management, a company run by businessman Marcelle Okwu , which is connected to Ms Daniels’ mother.

Mr Harlow says this “looks a lot like a cover-up”.

“The company to which it’s connected is very large, it’s very complicated, it’s not the kind of thing you’d want to do just to hide something from the public,” he said.

“If someone is guilty of being a professional liar and shady, the most powerful man in the world won’t defend them.”

Leave a Comment