Michael Cohen pleads guilty to lying to Congress in collusion probe

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Special counsel Robert Mueller has reached a tentative deal with Michael Cohen, the former personal attorney and long-time fixer for President Donald Trump, sources told ABC News.

Cohen appeared in federal court in Manhattan Thursday where he entered a guilty plea for misstatements to Congress in closed-door testimony last year about his contacts with Russians during the presidential campaign.

Once among the president’s most loyal and zealous defenders in business and politics, Cohen has now promised to “put family and country first” by cooperating with prosecutors, becoming perhaps the most pivotal public witness against his former boss.

Cohen’s earlier plea deal with federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York implicated President Trump in campaign finance felonies. Since then, Cohen has spent more than 70 hours in interviews with Mueller’s team. The questioning has focused on contacts with Russians by Trump associates during the campaign, Trump’s business ties to Russia, obstruction of justice and talk of possible pardons, sources familiar with the discussions have told ABC News.

“The potential significance of Cohen’s cooperation is immense,” said Kendall Coffey, a former United States Attorney in Florida.

As Trump’s personal attorney and problem solver for more than a decade, Cohen’s portfolio at the Trump Organization covered personal and business matters both routine and highly sensitive. His dealings while serving as a senior executive in Trump’s global empire include several projects thought to be of interest to Mueller’s prosecutors, most notably the pursuit of a Trump Tower project in Moscow during the presidential campaign.

“It cannot be determined if Cohen’s cooperation will lead to other criminal allegations,” Coffey said. “But for most high-powered business people with complex business interests, having one’s personal attorney become a star witness for the prosecution is the worst possible legal nightmare.”

Cohen once said that he would “take a bullet” for the president but has now come to regard Trump as dangerously unfit for the presidency, according to people close to Cohen.

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