Jul 18, 2019

Cohen hush-money probe case closed: Trump team claims victory

President Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump’s legal team claimed victory after a federal judge in Manhattan said Wednesday that an investigation into hush-money payments arranged by his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen — which Cohen claims Trump directed — had concluded.

Details: U.S. District Judge William Pauley made the remarks in a court order directing the release of documents by 11am Thursday relating to 2 women who said they had sexual encounters with Trump. The president denies their claims and Cohen's. Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow said in a statement he's "pleased" the probe into "these ridiculous campaign finance allegations" is closed," per Reuters.

We have maintained from the outset that the president never engaged in any campaign finance violation."
— Statement by Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow

The big picture: Cohen is serving a 3-year prison sentence after being convicted of charges involving campaign finance violations, tax evasion and lying to Congress. He entered into a plea deal with prosecutors in the Southern District of New York and also the Mueller investigation in the case.

What they're saying: Lanny J. Davis, an attorney for Cohen, issued a statement after the judge made the order concerning the investigation into payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal.

"Case closed? Why is Michael Cohen — after all his voluntary cooperation and testimony that Mr. Mueller said was credible and went to 'core issues' and all the information and documents he voluntarily provided to prosecutors and to congress — the only member of the Trump company to be prosecuted and imprisoned? Especially since prosecutors found that virtually all of Michael’s admitted crimes were done at the direction of and for the benefit of Donald Trump? Why?"
— Lanny J. Davis, attorney for Michael Cohen

The big picture: Where the Trump investigations stand

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Trump Organization subpoenaed by Manhattan prosecutors over hush money payments

Michael Cohen. Photo: Atilgan Ozdil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance has subpoenaed the Trump Organization for records related to hush money payments made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels by Michael Cohen during the 2016 presidential campaign, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The Southern District of New York said earlier this month that it had "effectively concluded" its federal investigation into the payments without charging anyone except for Cohen, who is currently serving out a 3-year sentence for campaign finance violations. State prosecutors are now investigating whether the Trump Organization falsely listed its reimbursement of Cohen for the $130,000 payment to Daniels as a legal expense, which would be illegal under New York law, per the Times.

Go deeperArrowAug 1, 2019

FBI believed Trump was in contact with Cohen, Hope Hicks over hush money payments

Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Search warrants made public Thursday show that the FBI believed then-candidate Donald Trump spoke with his attorney Michael Cohen and aide Hope Hicks during the 2016 campaign about silencing news stories related to his alleged affair with adult film actress Stormy Daniels.

Why it matters: The Southern District of New York's investigation into hush money payments, which has now concluded, resulted in Cohen being sentenced to prison for three years for campaign finance violations. Trump — who was previously referred to in court documents as "Individual 1" — has denied allegations of his involvement in the scheme.

Go deeperArrowJul 18, 2019

Timeline: Every big move in the Mueller investigation

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

After nearly two years, special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation netted 199 criminal charges, 37 indictments or guilty pleas, and 5 prison sentences.

Driving the news: Mueller will make his much-hyped appearance before the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees on Wednesday, but neither party expects to learn anything new from his testimony, Axios' Alayna Treene reports.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Jul 23, 2019