Tags: Hollywood | Russia Probe | michael cohen | plea bargain | tom arnold | secret recording

Michael Cohen Backs Away From Parts of His Guilty Plea

michael cohen exults and points with his right index finger up high during a house oversight hearing
Michael Cohen (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

By    |   Wednesday, 24 April 2019 01:36 PM

President Donald Trump's one-time personal attorney, Michael Cohen, has walked back part of his guilty plea, claiming he did not evade taxes and a criminal charge related to a home-equity line of credit was "a lie," according to The Wall Street Journal.

The newspaper said Cohen made his comments in a phone call to actor and comedian Tom Arnold, a vocal critic of Trump. The newspaper said the March 25 call was recorded without Cohen's knowledge by Arnold.

Cohen has pleaded guilty to eight criminal charges, including campaign-finance violations regarding hush-money payments to former porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy centerfold Karen McDougal. He has also admitted to five counts of evading personal income taxes and one count of understating his expenses and debt in an application for a home-equity line of credit, or Heloc, the newspaper noted.

"There is no tax evasion," he said during the call. "And the Heloc? I have an 18% loan-to-value on my home. How could there be a Heloc issue? How? Right? . . . It's a lie."

During the call, Cohen, who is preparing for a three-year prison term, confessed he felt like "a man all alone."

"You would think that you would have folks, you know, stepping up and saying, 'You know what, this guy's lost everything,'" Cohen said.

"My family's happiness, and my law license. I lost my business . . . my insurance, my bank accounts, all for what? All for what? Because Trump, you know, had an affair with a porn star? That's really what this is about."

Arnold said he recorded the 36-minute call without Cohen's knowledge because Cohen was known to record conversations and that he wanted to remember what they discussed. Arnold provided a copy to The Wall Street Journal, which reported on it and posted audio excerpts on its website on Wednesday.

It's unclear where Arnold was when he made the recording. If he was in California, he could face legal scrutiny because the state requires consent from both parties on the call. If he was in New York, he's in the clear. That state only requires one party's consent.

Cohen met Arnold in June 2018 in what he described as a "chance, public encounter" in the lobby of a Manhattan hotel where Cohen was staying while his apartment was being repaired. Cohen said that Arnold asked to take a selfie .

The meeting happened about two months after the FBI raided Cohen's hotel room and home and about two weeks before he publicly declared he was splitting from Trump, telling ABC's George Stephanopoulos: "I will not be a punching bag as part of anyone's defense strategy."

Arnold, who hosted a Viceland series last year in which he investigated rumored recordings of Trump, told the Journal he made the recent call to Cohen to follow up on their meeting and to offer him moral support.

Arnold's representatives did not immediately respond to an interview request.

Cohen is scheduled to begin a three-year sentence on May 6 at a federal prison about 70 miles (113 kilometers) northwest of New York City. His lawyers recently asked House Democrats to intercede to get a reduced or delayed sentence, but they've been reticent to do so.

According to the Journal, Cohen told Arnold he pleaded guilty to the charges he now disputes because federal prosecutors were looking at his wife, Laura Shusterman, because her name was on a bank account where he deposited $2.4 million in loan proceeds.

"I love this woman, and I am not going to let her get dragged into the mud of this crap," Cohen said, according to the Journal. "And I never thought the judge was going to throw a three-year fricking sentence."

Cohen's concerns about the tax evasion and bank fraud charges appeared to echo some of what his former lawyer, Guy Petrillo, wrote in a sentencing memorandum submitted to the court in December.

Petrillo argued that Cohen's tax evasion was "unsophisticated" and warranted less punishment than elaborate schemes. He argued that the bank fraud charge was the result of sloppiness in completing paperwork.

Cohen's lawyer and spokesman, Lanny Davis, acknowledged that Cohen spoke with Arnold and said that he "meant no offense by his statements."

"Michael has taken responsibility for his crimes and will soon report to prison to serve his sentence," Davis said in an emailed statement. "While he cannot change the past, he is making every effort to reclaim his life and do right by his family and country."

Material from the Associated Press was used in this story.

© 2019 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

   
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Claiming he did not evade taxes and calling a criminal charge related to a home-equity line of credit was "a lie," President Donald Trump's one-time personal attorney, Michael Cohen, has walked back part of his guilty plea, The Wall Street Journal reported.
michael cohen, plea bargain, tom arnold, secret recording
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2019-36-24
Wednesday, 24 April 2019 01:36 PM
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