President Trump’s bagman and personal attorney Michael Cohen is caught in a whirlwind of corruption revelations stemming from the Stormy Daniels hush money case and the unconscionable multimillion dollar payoffs he took into his “real estate consulting” company, Essential Consultants, LLC. Now, a legal news outlet just identified a serious crime that Michael Cohen probably committed by taking money from Novartis Pharmaceuticals, a Swiss company.
Federal law requires persons who engage in American political activities for foreign corporations to register as a lobbyist under the LDA or register with the Department of Justice under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
FARA happens to be the same federal law which has ensnared two other high profile cooperators and one current defendant in the Special Counsel Mueller’s Russia probe. Law&Crime reports:
Law&Crime spoke at length on the subject with Joshua Ian Rosenstein of the D.C.-based law firm Sandler Reiff Lamb Rosenstein & Birkenstock. Rosenstein is an expert in FARA and Lobbying Disclosure (LDA) compliance.
“Novartis AG is a Swiss company, and from public reporting—and from Novartis’s own statements, it appears that the foreign company was directly involved in the agreement with Mr. Cohen,” he said. “Foreign corporations undertaking political activities in the US are treated as foreign principals under FARA.”
He said that, given Novartis’ status as a Swiss company, public reporting and Novartis’ statements, it seems likely that Novartis would be treated as a foreign principal in this case.
Persons who take political action on behalf of a foreign principal – like a corporation, government or political party meet the requirements to register, and violations of the FARA are criminal offenses punishable by up to five years imprisonment, but a late registration doesn’t automatically result in prosecution.
For example, Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort is facing criminal charges for failure to register as an agent of the Ukrainian Party of Regions, as well as associated money laundering charges.
That’s what led Manafort’s former partner Rick Gates, who faced those same charges, to enter a plea bargain that made him a cooperating witness in the Russia probe.
But Cohen’s case is more like Gen. Mike Flynn, who faced the prospect of charges for failure to register under FARA when he got paid by a Dutch company with a Turkish national as his foreign principal.
The secret payments Flynn accepted to work on behalf of Turkey ultimately led Trump’s former National Security Advisor cut a deal to cooperate with prosecutors before any indictments landed.
On April 11th, Michael Cohen reportedly began teetering on the brink of snitching against Trump. Reports indicate that Felix Sater – his childhood friend and Russian mafia-connected Trump Organization dealmaker – turned on Trump just three days before the FBI raid ripped the lid off of his hush money and bribery company.
Cohen is drowning in bad debt from his shady taxi business and just pledged his personal home, an opulent Park Avenue apartment with plumbing problems, as mortgage collateral. He appears to be busy fighting for his financial life.
Two months ago, Mike Flynn had to sell a beloved home in Virginia to pay his legal bills, even after he began cooperating with Mueller’s probe and pled guilty.
If federal prosecutors do choose to charge Michael Cohen with FARA violations, there’s a solid chance that that could be the end game for Trump’s personal lawyer to turn state’s evidence and testify against his boss, the President.
Read Michael Avenatti’s reaction to the news that Michael Cohen may have violated federal foreign agency registration requirements:
Good thing Mr. Cohen and his atty Mr. Ryan are so focused on $25k relating to a different "Cohen" as opposed to the other $3MM in transactions that are correctly stated in our report and subject Mr. Cohen to jail time. https://t.co/CbbsDjjScW
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) May 10, 2018