Prosecutors tout deal to nail Trump for porn star payments

Did federal prosecutors from the Manhattan District Attorney’s office break new ground in the ever-expanding political witch hunt to prosecute President Donald Trump?

They interviewed admitted liar Michael Cohen, his former personal lawyer, last month at a prison in Otisville, NY where he is serving a three-year sentence, according to a CNN report.

NBC News cited an anonymous source Wednesday who claimed Cohen struck an agreement with them to “provide information about the president’s business operation.”

Prosecutors are investigating nondisclosure payments Cohen arranged for porn star Stormy Daniels and ex-Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal. Both women alleged they had affairs with the president, accusations he has denied.

Daniels received $130,000 while McDougal got $150,000 from the parent company of the National Enquirer, American Media Inc., to “catch and kill” the story. AMI admitted helping Trump to cover up the payments.

Cohen pleaded guilty to a campaign finance violation, as well as lying to the FBI and to Congress. He is formally cooperating so he can request a sentence reduction from a federal judge, a source told CNBC on Thursday.

Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller spun off the Cohen investigation to prosecutors in the Southern District of New York earlier this year. They had already scoured documents looking for irregularities in the payments without charging The Trump Organization with any wrongdoing.

The D.A. has subpoenaed both the Trump Organization and AMI in connection with its probe, which began last month.

Ex-U.S. attorney Joyce Vance told MSNBC’s Hardball host Chris Matthews on Wednesday that Trump could be facing an “unpleasant” jail sentence.

“What prosecutors seem to be focusing on is the idea that there would have been false business records that would have been submitted,” said Vance.

 “Normally that’s a misdemeanor. But if you submit false business records in an effort to conceal another crime — here, presumably a federal crime involving campaign finance fraud — then it becomes a felony and you’re really in hot water,” she insisted.

Matthews salivated at the prospect of “a big case, if you’re taking the President of the United States down into a criminal matter.”

According to Vance, “any amount of jail time in the state system in New York would be very unpleasant for the president of the United States.”

A lawyer for the Trump Organization, Marc Mukasey, told CNBC in an email on Thursday, “When you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas.”

Analysts say the case is a dud, based on legal precedent set by a Federal Election Commission ruling in 2012 in the case of former presidential candidate John Edwards, who was found not guilty of campaign finance violations under similar circumstances.

Prosecutors alleged that the Trump Organization paid Cohen $420,000 to reimburse him for the $130,000 hush money payment, which included funds for taxes and a bonus. He was directed to submit monthly invoices and the payments were made in installments of $35,000 over 12 months.

The company logged the fees as legal expenses, but prosecutors alleged, Cohen did no legal work for them in 2017.

Cohen has already testified in court about his role in the payments claiming he was ‘directed’ by Trump, a claim the president denied.

He was repaid with checks signed by Trump and his eldest son, Donald Trump Jnr.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford expressed her willingness to testify before The House Judiciary Committee, which announced they plan to have hearings about the payments this fall.