The legal inquiries into U.S. President Donald Trump and his 2016 campaign started with Russia but have moved much closer to home. While Trump insists no evidence will ever emerge of his campaign colluding in Russia’s high-tech interference with the election, Trump’s opponents say some compelling clues are already out in the open, and alleged collusion remains at the heart of the probe by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. A separate investigation spawned by Mueller’s work produced a guilty plea by Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, which could open the door to other lines of inquiry.
A referral by Mueller to federal prosecutors in New York triggered the probe of Cohen, who spent a decade working for the Trump Organization. On Aug. 21, Cohen pleaded guilty to tax evasion, bank fraud and making illegal campaign contributions at the behest of an unnamed presidential candidate presumed to be Trump. Those contributions were payments to silence two women, adult-film actress Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, both of whom say they had sexual liaisons with Trump years ago.