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National
Cohen pleads guilty to 8 charges, says Trump told him to pay off Stormy Daniels, Karen McDougal
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Cohen pleads guilty to 8 charges, says Trump told him to pay off Stormy Daniels, Karen McDougal

Former Trump Lawyer Michael Cohen Pleads Guilty to 8 Counts

Cohen pleads guilty to 8 charges, says Trump told him to pay off Stormy Daniels, Karen McDougal

President Donald Trump’s longtime personal attorney, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty Tuesday to eight charges, including multiple counts of tax evasion and a campaign finance charge stemming from so-called “hush money” payments made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal.

>> Read more trending news

Cohen, 51, entered a plea deal Tuesday with prosecutors in the Southern District of New York.

Update 6:25 p.m. EDT Aug. 21: "There is no allegation of any wrongdoing against the President in the government's charges against Mr. Cohen," Trump's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, said in a statement after Cohen entered his plea Tuesday.

"It is clear that, as the prosecutor noted, Mr. Cohen's actions reflect a pattern of lies and dishonesty over a significant period of time," Giuliani said.

Cohen said in court Tuesday that he coordinated with Trump to pay hush money to Daniels and McDougal, who both claim they had affairs with Trump years before he was elected. Cohen did not name Daniels, McDougal or Trump in court.

Update 6:10 p.m. EDT Aug. 21: Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, told MSNBC that he and his client have been “vindicated” after Cohen pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges including tax evasion and a campaign-finance violation.

 >> From Cox Media Group’s Jamie Dupree: Read the documents from Michael Cohen’s guilty plea

"A lot of this stems from her courage,” Avenatti said. “We're going to get to the bottom now in connection to the civil case as to what the president knew, and what he knew about it, and when he knew and what he did about it."

Daniels claims that she had sex with Donald Trump in 2006, more than a decade before he became president. She is suing Trump and Cohen, seeking to invalidate a nondisclosure agreement she signed days before the 2016 presidential election.

Cohen said in federal court in New York that he paid Daniels, who was not named, $130,000 in exchange for the nondisclosure agreement to influence the election. The payment was made at the direction of Trump, who also was not named, Cohen said.

Update 5:40 p.m. EDT Aug. 21: Deputy U.S. Attorney Robert Khuzami said after Cohen entered his guilty plea Tuesday that he submitted false invoices to the Trump’s company to obtain reimbursement for unlawful campaign contributions made in the form of payments to Daniels and McDougal.

In his plea, Cohen did not name the two women or even Trump, recounting instead that he worked with an "unnamed candidate." But the amounts and the dates all lined up with the payments made to Daniels and McDougal.

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Cohen pleads guilty to 8 charges, says Trump told him to pay off Stormy Daniels, Karen McDougal

Cohen said in federal court in New York on Tuesday that he made the payments  in coordination with Trump to influence the election. Both women claimed Trump had affairs with them, which he denies.

The other charges Cohen pleaded guilty to involve bank fraud and income tax evasion.

As part of his plea agreement, Cohen agreed not to challenge any sentence from 46 to 63 months.

Khuzami said Tuesday that Cohen’s “lies and dishonesty” were particularly egregious because of his profession.

“(He) decided he was above the law and for that he’s going to pay a very serious price,” Khuzami said.

Update 5:10 p.m. EDT Aug. 21: At a hearing Tuesday afternoon in federal court in New York, Cohen said he made payments to Daniels and McDougal on behalf of Trump, who was not named, “to influence the election,” according to The Associated Press.

Daniels said she had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006. She signed a non-disclosure agreement shortly before voters went to the polls for the 2016 presidential election in exchange for $130,000 from Cohen.

McDougal claimed she had a nearly year-long affair with the president in 2006 and 2007. The rights to McDougal’s story were bought in August 2016 by American Media Inc., the company that publishes the National Enquirer, The Wall Street Journal reported, but her story was never published.

 Update 4:55 p.m. EDT Aug. 21: Cohen admitted in court Tuesday to working at Trump’s discretion to silence Karen McDougal, a former Playboy Playmate who claimed she had a nearly year-long affair with the president in 2006 and 2007, according to The New York Daily News.

He also told the court that he paid adult film star Stormy Daniels $130,000 in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election “with and at the direction of the same candidate (Trump),” the newspaper reported. The money went to Daniels in exchange for her signing a non-disclosure agreement that barred her from talking about a sexual encounter she said she had with Trump in 2006, a decade before he was elected to office.

A judge set Cohen’s bond at $500,000, according to Reuters. He is expected to appear in court for sentencing on Dec. 12.

Update 4:40 p.m. EDT Aug. 21: The charges Cohen pleaded guilty to Tuesday include five counts of tax evasion, according to The New York Daily News.

Update 3:45 p.m. EDT Aug. 21: An unidentified source  told The Washington Post that Cohen's plea deal came Tuesday after prosecutors "claimed he risked more than dozen years in prison."

Unidentified sources told Fox News that Cohen’s plea included three to five years of jail time.

Update 3:25 p.m. EDT Aug. 21: It was not immediately clear whether Cohen agreed to cooperate in special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation surrounding Trump as part of the agreement, The Washington Post reported.

Cohen surrendered Tuesday afternoon to FBI officials, according to the newspaper.

Original report: Two unidentified people familiar with the investigation told The Associated Press that Cohen’s attorneys were in negotiations with prosecutors earlier Tuesday.

Cohen has been under investigation for possible fraud related to his businesses, the AP reported. Officials with the FBI raided his hotel room, home and office in April, seizing his computer, his phone and hundreds of thousands of records, The Washington Post reported.

>> FBI sought records related to Trump 'Access Hollywood' tape in Cohen raid: reports

Authorities sought details on Cohen’s efforts to stave off negative publicity about Trump, CBS News and The New York Times reported. Among other things, authorities sought information on the release of an infamous tape in which the president could be heard on a hot mic making derogatory comments about women and payments Cohen made to a pair of women who claim they had sexual relationships with Trump, The New York Times reported.

Adult film star Stormy Daniels said she had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006. Karen McDougal, a former Playboy Playmate, claimed she had a nearly year-long affair with the president in 2006 and 2007.

Officials also sought details on the role that the publisher of The National Enquirer played in keeping the women’s stories from going public, according to The Times.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Cohen pleads guilty to 8 charges, says Trump told him to pay off Stormy Daniels, Karen McDougal

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  • A Texas man is accused of being naked and assaulting a 58-year-old woman with her wheelchair outside her apartment Friday. >> Read more trending news  According to court documents, Williard Lee Houston, 39, assaulted the woman, KXAN reported. He was arrested and booked into the Travis County Jail on a count of injury to a disabled individual, KEYE reported. He was being held in lieu of a $75,000 bond, according to arrest records. Police said they found the woman found the woman lying in a stairwell, bleeding from her mouth, KXAN reported. Police said the woman told them 'the naked man beat her,' according to court documents. The woman was taken to an area hospital, where she was treated for a fractured wrist and possible fractures to her nose and ribs, KEYE reported. According to court documents, Houston told police he hit the woman with her wheelchair about 10 times, KXAN reported. Police said Houston started screaming expletives and said, ”That was my first time hitting an old lady… I show mad respect for a woman.” The woman told police she did not recall what led to the assault, the television station reported.
  • Following an article posted by The New York Times this weekend, several Democratic presidential candidates are calling for the impeachment of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh on allegations of sexual misconduct from his time as a student at Yale University. On Sunday, the Times reported that Kavanaugh faced a separate allegation of sexual assault from his undergraduate days and that the FBI did not investigate the claim. However, the story has come under some scrutiny. The Times tweeted a promotion for the story, which they later deleted and apologized for, then added an editor's note to the online story explaining that the female student mentioned in the new claim declined to be interviewed about the allegations and that friends say she does not recall the incident. The Times' article was an excerpt from a book about Kavanaugh that is to come out in a couple of weeks. Kavanaugh fought sexual assault allegations prior to his confirmation by the Senate last October, facing many in Congress who said he was unfit for the position. Amid the renewed call from Democratic candidates and others in Congress, many are asking if and how a Supreme Court justice, who is appointed to the position for life, can be removed from the bench. Here's a look at the impeachment process for sitting federal judges and others. >> Read more trending news  Can a Supreme Court justice be impeached? Yes, a Supreme Court justice can be impeached. Article II Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution gives the House of Representatives the power to impeach federal judges and gives to the U.S. Senate the right to vote to remove judges who have been impeached. The section reads: 'The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.' Judges are considered part of the 'all civil Officers of the United States' portion of the section. What can a Supreme Court justice be impeached for? The Constitution lays out two specific actions and one vague description of something that could lead to impeachment and removal of a justice from the bench. The Constitution says a person may be removed from office for convictions of 'Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.' While treason and bribery are spelled out, high crimes and misdemeanors are a little vaguer. High crimes and misdemeanors are generally seen as a violation of the public's trust. Sexual assault would fall under that category. How does impeachment work? Impeachment for justices works the same way as impeachment for a president or vice president would work. Here are the steps in the process for impeaching a federal justice: In the House First, an impeachment resolution must be introduced by a member of the House of Representatives. 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  • What do you do when you cross paths with a 400-pound feral hog on a golf course?  >> Read more trending news  It's a good idea to let the pig through. And it's an even better idea to call wildlife officials.Especially in southern Texas, where feral hogs are considered a nuisance. Trappers in southern Texas caught the giant porker on the course last week near San Antonio in Bexar County, WOAI reported. Wyatt Walton, of Lone Star Trapping, a trapping service in San Antonio, said the hog was captured by dogs, the television station reported. Walton said more than 3,200 feral hogs have been trapped and removed from neighborhoods in Bexar County, WOAI reported.
  • A longtime assistant Los Angeles city attorney killed himself last week after gunning down his wife and 19-year-old son, police officials said. Authorities were alerted to the killings when Eric Lertzman’s daughter, 25, fled to a neighbor’s house after escaping through a bathroom window, according to an LAPD news release. The dead include Lertzman, 60; his wife, Sandra Lertzman, also 60; and their 19-year-old son Michael Lertzman. The daughter’s identity was not revealed by police, but Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer identified her as Rachel Lertzman. Sandy Lertzman's sister, Cindy Stern, wrote on Facebook of the shock of the tragedy. “You never think this is going to happen to your immediate family,” Stern wrote. “Still in shock, but completely heartbroken about losing my dear sister Sandy, nephew Michael and brother-in-law Eric to gun violence today. Grateful beyond words that Rachel survived.” A GoFundMe page set up to help Rachel Lertzman in the wake of her family’s deaths had raised more than $122,000 as of Monday morning. >> Read more trending news According to police, dispatchers received a call around 9 a.m. Wednesday for shots fired and an assault with a deadly weapon at the Lertzman home in Northridge. Greg Demos, the neighbor from whom Rachel Lertzman sought help, told KTLA she ran over in her pajamas and said her father had tried to shoot her. She was “upset, confused distraught, somewhat in shock,” as she recounted what happened, Demos told the news station. “‘I don’t know what to tell you, Greg, but this is what just happened in my house, and I don’t know what to do,’” Demos recalled her telling him. “She said, ‘My dad took a shot at me, and my mom and my brother are still inside.’” Demos told ABC7 in Los Angeles that he and Rachel Lertzman ran back to the family’s home. “I went with her to the door and I knocked on the door, yelled. Nothing,” Demos told the news station. “We went to the back. She had locked the doors and left. She said my mom and my brother are still inside. We pummeled on the door, yelled for her dad, yelled her mother’s name and brother’s name. No answer. “And that's when we called the police.” Police officials said the investigation showed Eric Lertzman shot and killed his wife in their bedroom, then attempted to shoot his daughter in her bedroom across the hall. She locked herself in a bathroom for safety. Lertzman then went to his son, Michael, and killed him, authorities said. Watch ABC7's live coverage of the police response to the Lertzman home below. “During this time, (Rachel Lertzman) escaped through the bathroom window and ran to a neighbor’s residence,” the news release said. “Eric returned to the master bedroom, where he turned the weapon on himself, ending his own life.” According to the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner’s Office, Eric Lertzman died of a gunshot wound to the head. Both Michael and Sandra Lertzman died of multiple gunshot wounds. Their deaths were classified as homicides, while Eric Lertzman's death was labeled a suicide. Two handguns were found in the home, according to police. Feuer said on Twitter that Eric Lertzman had been with the city attorney’s office since 2005. “This is a horrible tragedy,” Feuer said in a statement. “As we search for answers to how this could happen, we mourn the victims and envelop those left behind with our love during this time of unbearable loss. Of course, we will provide members of our city attorney family with needed counseling and support.” Police officials said detectives were still searching for a motive, but “investigators believe the recent loss of a loved one and ongoing health issues played a significant role.” Eric Lertzman’s mother, Phyllis Lertzman, died Aug. 26, according to her obituary. NBC Los Angeles reported that Eric Lertzman had taken leave from work after undergoing a recent colon surgery. The attorney's health had deteriorated over the past year or so, neighbors said. “Just terrible it came to this, that he couldn’t reach out to us or other family members for help,” longtime family friend Russ Beck told the news station. Beck described Eric Lertzman as a “kind soul” who enjoyed riding dirt bikes until his health no longer allowed it. Lertzman’s Facebook page, which had little activity, shows him standing next to a motorcycle and wearing riding gear. Eric and Sandy Lertzman had been married for 33 years, according to social media posts. A post on Sandy Lertzman's Facebook page indicated they celebrated their anniversary Aug. 24, less than three weeks before the homicides. In a 2016 Facebook post, Sandy Lertzman described her husband as a “supreme” husband and father. “I love you forever and can’t wait to share at least the next 30 years with you,” she wrote. In a 2017 anniversary post, which was accompanied by a wedding photo, she described Eric Lertzman as her best friend. Sandy Lertzman also heaped praise on her children on social media. On a birthday post about Rachel Lertzman, the proud mother described her as “amazing, beautiful, charismatic, dedicated, ever-environmental, fabulous, gorgeous, honest, intelligent, journey-driven, kind, loving, multitalented, nondiscriminatory, over-the-top, passionate, quick-witted.” When Michael Lertzman turned 18 in 2017, she wrote: “You are an awesome human being, and we are proud of you and love you! XO, Mom and Dad.” She expressed similar sentiments in October, when her son turned 19. 'From the day you were born, you've brightened our world, and we're very proud of you for the awesome person you are,' she wrote. Family and friends of the Lertzman family expressed shock and sorrow over the killings. Aviva Eagle, who described herself as a cousin, said Sandy Lertzman was “always full of love and always smiling.” Eagle described Michael Lertzman, a student at California State University Northridge, as smart with his whole future ahead of him. Alan Dreiman, president of the university’s chapter of Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi, wrote of the teen’s warmth. “Michael was a shining light in our lives, a wound that will never heal,” Dreiman wrote. “A huge thank you to everyone who has offered support. That is the only thing getting everyone through these terrible times. Our condolences are sent out to family, friends, and the community. May we all stay strong.” Chabad at CSUN, the university’s Jewish Student Center, also mourned him on social media. “We are beyond devastated by the horrific news of today,” a post on the group’s Facebook page read. “Chabad at CSUN stands with our AEPI (Alpha Epsilon Pi) brothers, as well as the Northridge community.” Camp Alonim, a program of the American Jewish University-Brandeis Bardin Campus in Simi Valley, said the teen was a longtime camper and staff member. “Mikey’s personal warmth, his gentle spirit, his wide smile and his infectious enthusiasm will never be forgotten,” the group’s Facebook page read. “He will always be a beloved member of our Camp Alonim family. We send our deepest condolences to his sister, Rachel (CIT '10), and the many people whose lives Mikey touched.” A woman named Erica Hartman responded that she had seen Michael Lertzman the Friday before he was killed. “He ALWAYS had a smile on his face and greeted everyone with nothing short of genuine happiness,” Hartman wrote. “We are devastated by this horrible news,” Julie Hertel wrote. “I know there are many current and former campers, my daughter included, that are heartbroken, shocked and numb to hear this news. “Campers should look to their camp family to help them through this difficult time. It helps to be with or talk with others that knew and loved Mikey. Share your stories and memories about him, this will bring comfort to you and your friends. My heart goes out to everyone impacted by this awful situation.”