TRUMP: Cohen’s business partner agrees to plea deal with govt prosecutors
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THE HILL – A longtime business associate of President Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen has reportedly agreed to cooperate with government prosecutors as part of a plea deal.
The New York Times reported on Tuesday that Evgeny Freidman agreed to cooperate with state and federal prosecutors, potentially raising pressure on Cohen to assist in the special counsel investigation into Russia’s 2016 election meddling.
In return, Freidman got five years of probation for pleading guilty Tuesday to a single count of evading $50,000 worth of taxes. Freidman, who was reportedly disbarred earlier this month, had faced four counts of criminal tax fraud and one of grand larceny, each carrying a possible sentence of up to 25 years.
Freidman, a Russian immigrant nicknamed the “Taxi King,” has been partners with Cohen in the taxi business for years, The Times reported.
Cohen is reportedly under investigation for bank fraud and campaign finance law violations.
The FBI raided his home, office and hotel room last month, in part following a referral from special counsel Robert Mueller, reportedly seizing financial records, communications between Cohen and his clients and documents related to nondisclosure payments to two women — including adult film star Stormy Daniels — who alleged they had affairs with Trump.
Multiple outlets reported federal investigators were also focused on Cohen’s taxi business.
In the wake of the search, Trump denied Cohen would “flip” amid reports the president’s legal team was bracing for Cohen to cooperate with investigators.
In recent weeks, Cohen has come under scrutiny for his efforts to solicit payments in exchange for access and insights into the Trump administration.
Swiss drug company Novartis and AT&T have both acknowledged they paid Cohen for advice on how to approach the Trump administration on particular issues. Officials from both companies have called the arrangement “a mistake.”
In addition, Cohen reportedly offered Qatari government officials access to the president in exchange for at least $1 million. Qatar declined the offer.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who represents Trump in the Russia probe, has said the president “was unaware” Cohen solicited payments from those companies.
Freidman’s guilty plea came the same day that Michael Avenatti, Daniels’s attorney, claimed in a court filing that Cohen has been selectively leaking recordings seized in the FBI raid.