Published: Fri, July 19, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

DoJ won't charge Hope Hicks -- or anyone else -- in Cohen payoff case

DoJ won't charge Hope Hicks -- or anyone else -- in Cohen payoff case

Federal prosecutors have told a judge in NY they have concluded their investigation into campaign finance crimes committed by President Donald Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen.

On Oct. 8, 2016, the day after the release of the "Access Hollywood" tape, Cohen received a call from Hicks, then the press secretary for Trump's presidential campaign, at 7:20 p.m. ET, according to an Federal Bureau of Investigation review of telephone records cited in the unsealed documents.

Pauley said that because all investigations into Cohen are now over, the documents can be released to the public. At around 7:20 P.M., the agent's affidavit says, Cohen received a call from Hicks.

Cohen's first call after he spoke to Davidson at the end of the day was an eight-second call to Trump, although it is unclear if they spoke.

Donald Trump and his press secretary were directly involved in discussions that led to an illegal hush-money payment to Stormy Daniels during the 2016 election campaign, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

That's according to two people who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Then, in November, the Trump team braced for an expected story in the Wall Street Journal describing how the National Enquirer had shielded Trump from allegations by McDougal, the former Playboy model, that she and Trump once had an affair.

Cohen's attorney, Lanny Davis, however, expressed displeasure with prosecutors decision to drop the proceedings in his own statement issued Wednesday evening.

A footnote went into further detail about why the agent believe this was a three-party call that also included Trump. The documents show Cohen spoke with Trump on the phone at least twice amid a flurry of calls the Federal Bureau of Investigation believes were used to arrange them.

Michael Cohen, U.S. President Donald Trump's former lawyer, leaves his apartment to report to prison in Manhattan, New York, U.S., May 6, 2019. According to court documents, Cohen sought reimbursement for the payments and they agreed to give him $420,000, for which he sent monthly invoices.

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The investigation was examining Trump and his private business, the Trump Organization.

The filings were released at the federal court in Manhattan, where Cohen pleaded guilty previous year to campaign finance and personal financial crimes.

When he pleaded guilty, Cohen said he had acted "in coordination with" Trump as part of an attempt to stop allegations being aired that could damage Trump's presidential campaign in its final weeks. That was followed by more calls minutes later between Howard and Cohen, and then a text from Howard to Cohen that read: "Keith will do it".

United States District Judge William Pauley in Manhattan on Wednesday had ordered that the material, used by prosecutors to obtain a 2018 search warrant for Cohen's home and office, be unsealed on Thursday morning.

"I'm told they're going with DailyMail", Howard wrote in a text to Cohen late that afternoon, referring to a British tabloid.

Pauley said because prosecutors had informed him that their investigation of the payments was over, there was no reason to keep the documents secret. Federal prosecutors said the payments broke campaign-finance laws because they were meant to influence the 2016 presidential election. Cohen responded, "He's pissed", an apparent reference to Trump, according to the documents.

Cohen pleaded guilty to a host of other wrongdoing, including lying to Congress about the pursuit of a Trump Tower project in Moscow, tax evasion and making a false statement to a bank.

Prosecutors said the payments violated campaign finance laws, and the attorney, Michael Cohen, has said he made them on Trump's orders.

"Cohen exchanged a series of calls, text messages, and emails with Keith Davidson, who was then Clifford's attorney", as well as officials at National Enquirer, the supermarket tabloid whose boss, David Pecker, is close to Trump, according to the affidavit of an Federal Bureau of Investigation agent, who added: "Based on the timing of these calls, and the content of the text messages, I believe that at least some of these communications concerned the need to prevent Clifford from going public". A lawyer for Hicks declined comment.

"Jay Sekulow's statement is completely distorted and dishonest", Cohen said in a statement.

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