It’s old news at this point that the president can’t escape the scrutiny of the legal system, no matter how hard he tries. He has carried out actions ranging from the firing of the FBI director to endless furious public statements, and yet the main federal inquiry into his team as led by Special Counsel for the Russia investigation Robert Mueller is continuing.
Even still, the president seems undeterred in his efforts to put a stop to judicial scrutiny of himself and his associates. He ramped up his criticisms of the Justice Department after federal authorities in New York carried out a series of raids targeting his lawyer Michael Cohen, covering his home, office, and hotel room. Even still, the walls are continuing to close in on Michael, and Trump can’t expect to get off so easy, either.
One of the latest major developments on that front unfolded in an Albany, New York, court recently, where a business partner of Cohen’s entered into a plea deal as a part of a government case against him that included him agreeing to cooperate in other investigations.
That business partner is Evgeny Freidman; the two men worked together in the taxi business in New York City. Cohen owned the taxis and Freidman managed them, and the business relationship of the two men has actually occupied the spotlight already at least once before. Cohen deflected blame for a massive tax bill he was slapped with recently in New York, claiming that Freidman was the one who actually owed the taxes.
Tax evasion is actually what the government had a case against Freidman for already. Before entering into a plea agreement on Tuesday, he faced four counts of criminal tax fraud and one of grand larceny, having been accused of failing to pay some $5 million in taxes.
Him agreeing to cooperate with the government in other criminal investigations is bad news for Cohen because it means that he just lost a potential ally in his own criminal investigation. The existence of that longstanding inquiry was revealed after the government raided Cohen; it covers a whole host of topics, including some that rope in the president.
One such topic is the $130,000 in hush money that Cohen dished out to adult film star Stormy Daniels covering an affair she had with the man who is now president. Daniels is suing to be free from the nondisclosure agreement associated with that payment and has also filed defamation claims against Trump and Cohen.
Daniels’ claims shifted a bit, however, when it was revealed that the government itself had been carrying out a criminal investigation of Cohen for months.
In the face of Freidman flipping, the question remains of if Cohen will do so. The president has already proven sensitive to the possibility in the past and tried to downplay it in some tweets.
What will really happen, no matter what the president says on Twitter, remains to be seen. Cohen may have sought to hide secrets of illegal activities carried out in connection to his relationship to the president, but they won’t stay secret forever, as the investigation into him proves.
Featured Image via NICHOLAS KAMM/ AFP/Getty Images