President Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen has backtracked in a recent recorded phone call, claiming he's not actually guilty for crimes he pleaded guilty to.
In a conversation with Trump-hating provocateur Tom Arnold, Cohen said that he hadn't evaded taxes, and that a criminal charge linked to his home-equity line of credit was "a lie," according to the Wall Street Journal.
Arnold recorded Cohen without his knowledge for approximately 36 minutes during a March 25 phone call, which Arnold provided to the Journal.
"There is no tax evasion," said Cohen on 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."
In the 36-minute recording, Messrs. Cohen and Arnold covered a range of issues, from the legal troubles of former Stormy Daniels attorney Michael Avenatti to Mr. Trump’s affinity for the leader of North Korea.
Mr. Arnold said he made the recording without Mr. Cohen’s knowledge. Mr. Cohen has himself surreptitiously recorded conversations. During a raid of his home, office and hotel room in April 2018, the Federal Bureau of Investigation seized recordings the lawyer made while talking to journalists, political allies, and others, including Mr. Trump. During the call last month, Mr. Arnold praised Mr. Cohen for standing against the president. “You are a hero and you’re not alone,” Mr. Arnold said. -Wall Street Journal
Cohen tells Arnold he pleaded guilty in AUgust because "they had me on campaign finance," while prosecutors were also targeting his wife - whose name some of the $2.4 million in interest payments he received from loans was deposited, New York federal prosecutors wrote in a court filing.
"I love this woman, and I am not going to let her get dragged into the mud of this crap," said Cohen. "And I never thought the judge was going to throw a three-year fricking sentence."
Of note, Cohen is due to begin serving a three-year prison sentence on May 6 after testifying for more than 100 hours to federal and congressional investigators.
"You would think that you would have folks, you know, stepping up and saying, ‘You know what, this guy’s lost everything,’" Cohen told Arnold during the call. "My family’s happiness, and my law license," he continued, "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."
Cohen's attorney, Lanny Davis, said: "Michael has taken responsibility for his crimes and will soon report to prison to serve his sentence. While he cannot change the past, he is making every effort to reclaim his life and do right by his family and country. He meant no offense by his statements."
And while the White House and the Manhattan US attorney's office declined to comment, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani tweeted: "Poetic justice for a disbarred lawyer who surreptitiously recorded his client and numerous others including Chris Cuomo."
Michael Cohen, in Recorded Phone Call, Walks Back Parts of Guilty Plea - The Wall Street Journal. Poetic justice for a disbarred lawyer who surreptitiously recorded his client and numerous others including Chris Cuomo. https://t.co/KTJ4DuTU8T— Rudy Giuliani (@RudyGiuliani) April 24, 2019
Since Cohen began composing for the Angry Democrats he has demonstrably lied under oath in his guilty plea and his testimony to Elijah “I’ll throw the book at you” Cummings. Report ignores all of this and provides no facts to evaluate Cohen’s credibility. One of many deceptions.— Rudy Giuliani (@RudyGiuliani) April 24, 2019
In August, Cohen pleaded guilty to a wide variety of mostly financial crimes, telling a judge at his December sentencing "I take full responsibility for each act that I pled guilty to."
Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty to eight criminal charges brought by New York federal prosecutors, including campaign-finance violations in connection with hush-money payments to the two women, the former porn star Stormy Daniels and the former Playboy centerfold model Karen McDougal. Mr. Trump denies he had sex with either woman.
Mr. Cohen also admitted to five counts of evading personal income taxes and one count of understating his debt and expenses in an application for a $500,000 home-equity line of credit, or Heloc.
Mr. Cohen testified in February in the House of Representatives that Mr. Trump committed crimes, including directing the hush-money schemes during the 2016 presidential campaign involving the two women. “I never directed Michael Cohen to break the law,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter in December. -Wall Street Journal
Prosecutors in New York, meanwhile, said that Cohen has yet to acknowledge that he made false statements to banks, concluding "This signals that Cohen’s consciousness of wrongdoing is fleeting, that his remorse is minimal, and that his instinct to blame others is strong."