By Brendan Pierson
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, has reached a plea bargain with federal prosecutors in New York on campaign finance violations, bank fraud and tax evasion, news media outlets reported on Tuesday, citing unnamed sources.
Cohen, 51, was to appear in federal court in Manhattan at 4 p.m. EDT (2000 GMT) on Tuesday, a court official told Reuters.
News that Cohen had entered into a plea agreement followed a report earlier in the day by NBC News, then others, that he was discussing a deal with prosecutors.
A plea bargain could increase legal risks for the president, as it raises the possibility that Cohen will provide information to U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller in his investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible coordination with the Trump campaign.
Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion and has called the Mueller investigation a witch hunt. Russia has denied meddling in the election. U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded Moscow interfered.
Cohen was part of Trump's inner circle for more than a decade, working as his personal attorney at the Trump Organization and continuing to advise the president after the election. But their relationship has frayed in recent months.
Lanny Davis, a lawyer for Cohen, declined to comment. Cohen and another of his lawyers, Guy Petrillo, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the earlier reports.
The probe is being led by the office of U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman in Manhattan. A spokesman did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Federal agents had seized documents and files from Cohen in April that stemmed from a referral from Mueller's office.
Cohen once said he would "take a bullet" for Trump, but their relationship has deteriorated since the April FBI raid on Cohen's office, hotel room and home.
The New York Times reported on Sunday that federal prosecutors were focused on more than $20 million in loans obtained by Cohen from taxi businesses owned by him and his family.
The loans are part of the investigation into whether Cohen committed bank and tax fraud, and for possible campaign law violations linked to a $130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels.
Mueller's investigation, which began in May 2017, has resulted in the indictment of more than 30 people and five guilty pleas.
Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, is on trial in Alexandria, Virginia, for 18 counts of financial crimes resulting from the Mueller probe. The jury in his case was in its fourth day of deliberations on Tuesday.
(Reporting by Brendan Pierson; Writing by Jonathan Oatis; Editing by James Dalgleish)
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Updated Date: Aug 22, 2018 01:05 AM