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Trump's Longtime Lawyer Pleads Guilty to Campaign Fraud


Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's personal attorney, looks on as his attorney (not pictured) delivers a statement to reporters after meeting with Senate Intelligence Committee staff on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 19, 2017

U.S. authorities say President Donald Trump's longtime personal lawyer has agreed to plead guilty to campaign finance violations and other criminal charges, in a major legal blow for Trump.

Michael Cohen's plea on August 21 comes amid mounting problems for the U.S. president.

Earlier on August 21, a federal jury in Alexandria, Virginia, found Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, guilty on eight counts of bank and financial fraud.

The charges stemmed from work Manafort did for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine, including former President Viktor Yanukovych.

The case against Cohen is being conducted by prosecutors in Manhattan, but reportedly grew out of the investigation under way by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into alleged interactions between Russia officials and Trump associates during the U.S. presidential election in 2016.

Cohen's plea did not involve any Russia-linked activity, but rather alleged violations of U.S. election law involving the payment of so-called "hush money" to women who claim they had affairs with Trump.

If the payment was made during the 2016 election campaign, federal law requires that it be reportedly publicly. If Trump authorized the payment, but it wasn't disclosed, that could be charged as a federal crime.

Manafort's trial was the first to come out of Mueller's investigation.

A second, more serious trial against Manafort is scheduled to begin in Washington, D.C., next month.

Based on reporting by AP, Reuters, and Bloomberg
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