A business partner of Michael Cohen has agreed to serve as a potential witness for prosectors looking into the Trump attorney’s past financial crimes, increasing the likelihood that Cohen will be pressured to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.
Evgeny Freidman, a Russian immigrant who managed taxi medallions in New York City with Cohen, reached a deal with the New York attorney general’s office to assist prosecutors in state and federal investigations, the New York Times reported Tuesday.
President Trump’s legal team is reportedly concerned that Cohen’s indictment for assorted financial crimes will lead him to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation — a possibility made more salient by Friedman’s cooperation in prosecuting those crimes.
Friedman was disbarred this month after being charged with four counts of tax fraud and one count of grand larceny stemming from his failure to pay more than $5 million in taxes.
Rather than face a combined 100 years in jail — if found guilty and given the maximum sentence on all counts — Friedman pleaded guilty Tuesday to just one count; he received a $50,000 fine and no jail time in exchange for his cooperation.
In addition to a host of financial crimes related to his past business dealings, Cohen is under investigation by the U.S. attorney’s office for the southern district of New York for his role in paying porn star Stormy Daniels $130,000 to remain silent about her alleged affair with Trump.
On top of his legal troubles, Cohen has recently come under massive public scrutiny for an alleged influence peddling campaign he waged around the time of Trump’s election.
Michael Avenatti, the attorney representing Stormy Daniels, revealed — and multiple news outlets later confirmed — that Cohen received millions of dollars from various corporations after offering “insights” into the Trump administration. Many of his short-lived clients, including AT&T and the Pharma giant Novartis, have acknowledged that hiring Cohen was a mistake.