Updated Nov 29, 2018

How the Mueller probe closed in on Michael Cohen

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President Trump's former personal lawyer — and longtime fixer — Michael Cohen has entered into a plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller for lying to Congress about a Trump real estate project in Russia, the AP reports.

The big picture: Cohen has long been a source of concern for key people in Trump's orbit. According to ABC News, Mueller now has 70 hours of interviews with Cohen, focusing on questions regarding Trump's business ties to Russia, Trump associates contacts with Russia during the 2016 campaign, obstruction of justice and possible pardons. Former U.S. attorney in Florida, Kendall Coffey, told ABC News: "The potential significance of Cohen's cooperation is immense."

How it all kicked off: Adult film star Stormy Daniels claimed she had an affair with Trump in 2006 and received a $130,000 payment from Cohen to keep quiet.

  • Following Daniels' allegations, federal investigators in New York raided Cohen's home and office in April. As a former U.S. attorney told Axios at the time, "Here’s what must have happened: Mueller bumped into evidence of criminal conduct that was beyond his scope, so he referred it to the Rod," meaning Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein.
  • A court ruling after the raid meant that Trump's team lost first access to items that were seized, and the secrets of "the only person on earth intertwined in Trump’s professional, political, personal, legal and family life" were available to federal investigators.
  • The scope of the government's investigation widened in May after it was learned that investigators had monitored Cohen's phones.
  • Cohen broke his silence in July in an interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos — seemingly indicating that he'd be willing to cooperate with the feds: "I will not be a punching bag as part of anyone’s defense strategy. I am not a villain of this story, and I will not allow others to try to depict me that way."
  • Cohen's lawyer, Lanny Davis, released a tape to CNN detailing Cohen's conversation with Trump about paying off Karen McDougal, a Playboy model who alleged an affair with the president, later in July. David promised there was "more to come."
  • Soon after, Cohen told CNN that Trump knew ahead of time about the 2016 Trump Tower meeting between some of his top campaign officials and a Russian lawyer promising dirt on Hillary Clinton.
  • Cohen's family taxi business soon came under scrutiny, prompting tweets from Trump in late July.
  • In August, news broke that federal investigators were looking into related tax and bank fraud.
  • Two days later he pleaded guilty to eight counts including tax fraud, excessive campaign contributions, and more.

Go deeper: Everyone caught up in the Trump investigations

Go deeper

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

More than 62,300 U.S. health care workers have tested positive for the novel coronavirus and at least 291 have died from the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Tuesday. COVID-19 had infected about 9,300 health professionals when the CDC gave its last update on April 17.

By the numbers: More than 98,900 people have died from COVID-19 and over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Over 384,900 Americans have recovered and more than 14.9 million tests have been conducted.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11:00 p.m. ET: 5,589,626 — Total deaths: 350,453 — Total recoveries — 2,286,956Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11:00 p.m. ET: 1,680,913 — Total deaths: 98,913 — Total recoveries: 384,902 — Total tested: 14,907,041Map.
  3. Federal response: DOJ investigates meatpacking industry over soaring beef pricesMike Pence's press secretary returns to work.
  4. Congress: House Republicans to sue Nancy Pelosi in effort to block proxy voting.
  5. Business: How the new workplace could leave parents behind.
  6. Tech: Twitter fact-checks Trump's tweets about mail-in voting for first timeGoogle to open offices July 6 for 10% of workers.
  7. Public health: Coronavirus antibodies could give "short-term immunity," CDC says, but more data is neededCDC releases guidance on when you can be around others after contracting the virus.
  8. What should I do? When you can be around others after contracting the coronavirus — Traveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 11 mins ago - Politics & Policy

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

There are no COVID-19 patients in hospital in New Zealand, which reported just 21 active cases after days of zero new infections. A top NZ health official said Tuesday he's "confident we have broken the chain of domestic transmission."

By the numbers: Almost 5.5 million people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus as of Tuesday, and more than 2.2 million have recovered. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world (over 1.6 million from 14.9 million tests).