Under the deal reached with the New York attorney general’s office, the partner, Evgeny A. Freidman, a Russian immigrant who is known as the Taxi King, specifically agreed to assist government prosecutors in state or federal investigations, according to a person briefed on the matter.
The broadened scope of Mr. Freidman’s cooperation may prove worrisome not only to Mr. Cohen, who is the target of a continuing federal investigation, but also Mr. Trump.
The president’s lawyers are already resigned to the strong possibility that the inquiry into Mr. Cohen’s businesses could lead him to cooperate with federal prosecutors. That likelihood may now be greater, with Mr. Freidman potentially sharing what he knows with federal prosecutors in New York and the special counsel.
Mr. Freidman has been Mr. Cohen’s partner in the taxi business for years, managing cabs for him even after New York City regulators barred Mr. Freidman last year from continuing to manage medallions.
Mr. Cohen’s lawyer, Stephen Ryan, declined to comment on Tuesday.
President Trump’s lawyers sought to distance their client from the case.
Like jujitsu, it's all about leverage. Get an advantage against your foe's weak spots, and you can turn that into a move that brings them crashing down. Friedman flips Cohen, and Cohen turns on Trump...and that's the ball game.
Mr. Freidman, who was disbarred earlier this month, had been accused of failing to pay more than $5 million in taxes and faced four counts of criminal tax fraud and one of grand larceny — all B felonies. Each carries a maximum prison sentence of up to 25 years in prison.
Instead, he appeared in court in Albany on Tuesday and pleaded guilty to a single count of evading only $50,000 worth of taxes; he will avoid jail time and receive five years of probation if he fulfills the terms of his agreement, the judge, Patrick Lynch of Albany County court, said during the roughly 20-minute proceeding.
Later Tuesday, Mr. Freidman texted a New York Times reporter about the article that had been published about his guilty plea, calling it “shameful” and comparing it to a tabloid story. “Michael is dear dear personal friend and a passive client! That’s it!” he wrote. “I am humbled and shamed!” he said, adding that the guilty plea represented “me taking responsibility for my actions.”
“I had been an officer of the court in excess of 20 years and now I am a felon!” he wrote. “I hate that I have been grouped in this runaway train that I am not a part of!”
But asked if he was cooperating with the authorities, Mr. Freidman would not respond.
After Mr. Freidman’s guilty plea, his lawyer, Patrick J. Egan of Fox Rothschild, declined to comment. But earlier this year he said his client “considers Michael a very good friend and a great client.”
This guys was facing the rest of his life in the slammer, and he's getting probation and a pocket change fine because of what he has on Cohen. And Cohen, if he's got an ounce of common sense left in his skull, will look to use what he knows as leverage to avoid a similar multi-decade stay in substandard federal housing.
And that leaves Trump, high and dry. If Manafort and Flynn somehow don't bring Trump down, Cohen definitely will, as the evidence of Cohen's wrongdoing continues to pile up.
Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, received a secret payment of at least $400,000 (£300,000) to fix talks between the Ukrainian president and President Trump, according to sources in Kiev close to those involved.
The payment was arranged by intermediaries acting for Ukraine's leader, Petro Poroshenko, the sources said, though Mr Cohen was not registered as a representative of Ukraine as required by US law.
The meeting at the White House was last June.
Shortly after the Ukrainian president returned home, his country's anti-corruption agency stopped its investigation into Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort.
A high-ranking Ukrainian intelligence officer in Mr Poroshenko's administration described what happened before the visit to the White House.
Mr Cohen was brought in, he said, because Ukraine's registered lobbyists and embassy in Washington DC could get Mr Poroshenko little more than a brief photo-op with Mr Trump. Mr Poroshenko needed something that could be portrayed as "talks".
This senior official's account is as follows - Mr Poroshenko decided to establish a back channel to Mr Trump. The task was given to a former aide, who asked a loyal Ukrainian MP for help.
He in turn used personal contacts in a Jewish charity in New York state, Chabad of Port Washington. This eventually led to Michael Cohen, the president's lawyer and trusted fixer. Mr Cohen was paid $400,000.
There is no suggestion that Mr Trump knew about the payment.
Now, how happy do you think Donald is going to be there when he realizes Cohen made 400 grand and didn't cut him in on the finders' fee? What else is Cohen doing that Trump didn't know about?