U.S. President Donald Trump's longtime personal lawyer is scheduled to be sentenced after pleading guilty to tax and bank fraud and campaign finance charges that potentially could implicate Trump himself.
A U.S. judge will decide on December 12 whether Michael Cohen gets leniency or years in prison for crimes he's admitted to, which also include lying to Congress about Trump's past business dealings in Russia.
U.S. prosecutors have said in earlier court filings that Cohen failed to fully cooperate with investigators, and they're seeking a "substantial" jail term.
Cohen’s case focuses on the work he did while employed by Trump's business organization. Among the charges he admitted to was arranging so-called "hush-money" payments to women who claimed they had affairs with Trump.
Those payments occurred during the 2016 campaign and allegedly were reimbursed by Trump, which means they could be considered campaign contributions. If the contributions exceeded a certain amount and they weren't reported publicly, that could be considered a felony crime.
The case against Cohen grew out of the investigation being conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into interactions between Russian officials and Trump associates.
In related news, lawyers for Trump's first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, asked a judge for leniency when imposing a sentence for lying to federal agents.
Flynn was fired shortly after Trump took office in January 2017 for misleading Trump administration officials about communications with Russian officials. He pleaded guilty in December 2017.
Last week, Mueller told a court that Flynn had provided “substantial assistance” to investigators and should be spared prison time.
Trump has repeatedly denied any suggestions that his campaign coordinated with Russian officials during the 2016 election campaign.
In an interview with Reuters on December 11, he said he was confident he was not in danger of being impeached by Congress.
"It's hard to impeach somebody who hasn't done anything wrong and who's created the greatest economy in the history of our country," Trump told Reuters in an Oval Office interview.
"I'm not concerned, no. I think that the people would revolt if that happened," he said.
Many Democratic lawmakers said such a campaign-law violation would be an impeachable offense.
Senior Democratic leaders in Congress, however, have questioned whether it is a serious enough crime to merit impeachment proceedings, which requires a simple majority to pass the House of Representatives, where Democrats will take control in January.
Removal of a president from office further requires a two-thirds majority in the Senate. Republicans currently control that chamber.