A longtime business partner of Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's personal lawyer and fixer, entered into a surprise plea deal to a tax charge on Tuesday, suggesting he may be cooperating with the government as it turns up the heat on one of the president's closest associates.
President TrumpDonald John TrumpCEO of American investment firm believed Michael Cohen could bring in GOP donors for deals: report NAACP slams NFL for gag rule on national anthem Pelosi: Republican meeting over informant will "nix" possibility of bipartisan briefing MORE's lawyer Michael Cohen was paid by Ukraine to arrange a meeting between the country's president and Trump, the BBC reported Wednesday.
Federal prosecutors in NY are investigating Cohen for possible bank and tax fraud, possible campaign law violations and perhaps other matters related to Trump's presidential campaign, a person familiar with the probe has said.
Freidman's cooperation agreement could be a significant development for Cohen, whose personal business practices are under investigation by the USA attorney for the Southern District of NY.
In June, prosecutors for now-former state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman charged Freidman - a native of Russian Federation who allegedly boasted repeatedly of assets exceeding $130 million - with failing to pay the state $5 million between 2012 and 2015.
"[Cohen is a] dear dear personal friend and a passive client!"
"The Trump regime responded through its skeletal mouthpiece, Rudy Giuliani: "[Trump's] just not involved in the taxis".
Cohen is being investigated for alleged money laundering and campaign finance violations tied to hush money paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet about an affair she claims to have had with Trump in 2006.
Michael Volkov, a defense attorney at The Volkov Law Group, sounded a grim note on Cohen's legal prospects after the deal had been struck.
But Cohen insisted the press was mischaracterizing their relationship, describing himself as "one of thousands of medallion owners who entrust management companies to operate" their medallions, and concluding his tweet with the hashtag #MediaWrongAgain.
On Tuesday, Freidman agreed to pay restitution and judgments totaling $5 million to NY state.
Cohen is under criminal investigation in the Southern District of NY.
"The Attorney General's office agrees that if the defendant fulfills these conditions, and taking into account all other factors known to the AG at the time of sentencing, we would recommend that he would receive a sentence of 5 years' probation". Freidman, who had taken out loans against the value of the medallions at their peak was forced to default on a $34 million loan from Citibank and file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. "Gene Freidman and I are not partners and have never been partners in this business or any other", he continued, adding the hashtag "#MediaWrongAgain". He's known as the "Taxi King" of NY and the reporting that has come out about his importance has been fascinating. One source said Cohen received $400,000, and another put the number at $600,000, in return for help setting up a backchannel to Mr. Trump.