Michael Cohen Former Lawyer for President Donald Trump Testifies Live on C-SPAN

Michael Cohen, Trump’s former Lawyer, Testifies Live on C-SPAN: Plea Deal Included

  • Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, testifies live on C-SPAN today.
  • The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee questions Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer about investigations as they relate to the Trump organization and Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
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Michael Cohen, Trump’s former Lawyer, Testifies Live on C-SPAN

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hosts a hearing with Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer. As such, Cohen answers the Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s questions about:

(a) Trump’s Russia (Moscow) tower project;

(b) Hush money payments made to women on behalf of Trump leading up to the 2016 presidential election; and

(c) Campaign finance violations.

The event aired live on C-SPAN. And the full hearing is available to the public here.

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What is C-SPAN?

Consider C-SPAN’s mission statement, worth quoting because it sheds light on the organization.

C-SPAN is a public service created by the American Cable Television Industry, the organization’s mission includes:

  • To provide C-SPAN’s audience access to the live gavel-to-gavel proceedings of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, and to other forums where public policy is discussed, debated and decided––all without editing, commentary or analysis and with a balanced presentation of points of view.
  • To employ production values that accurately convey the business of government rather than distract from it.

Who is Michael Cohen?

Michael Cohen is President Donald Trump’s ex-lawyer. According to the United States District Court Southern District of New York, Cohen:

“Was an attorney and employee of a Manhattan-based real estate company […] COHEN held the title of “Executive Vice President” and “Special Counsel” to the owner of the Company (” Individual 1″ ).”

Notably, Individual 1 is now known as Donald Trump. Importantly, Cohen doesn’t work for President Trump now. In fact, during the Committee hearing, Cohen mentions, “I lost my law license.” Meaning, Cohen is disbarred; his license to practice law is revoked. Worse than disbarment, Mr.Cohen is sentenced to three years in prison.

Michael Cohen’s Plea Deal

Michael Cohen is going to prison. According to an August 21, 2018 Department of Justice press release, Cohen signed a plea deal admitting to,”charges of tax evasion, making false statements to a federally-insured bank, and campaign finance violations.  The plea was entered followed the filing of an eight-count criminal information, which alleged that COHEN concealed more than $4 million in personal income from the IRS, made false statements to a federally-insured financial institution in connection with a $500,000 home equity loan, and, in 2016, caused $280,000 in payments to be made to silence two women who otherwise planned to speak publicly about their alleged affairs with a presidential candidate, thereby intending to influence the 2016 presidential election.” Worthy of note, Cohen also pleaded guilty to making false statements to Congress.

Cohen’s False Statements to Congress Cause Concerns\

Per the plea deal (provided below), Michael Cohen, “Agrees to waive indictment and plead guilty to a Criminal Information [for] making false statement to the U.S Congress.” For this reason some Committee members question the integrity of Cohen’s testimony.


Chairman’s Statements About Cohen Hearing

Elijah Cummings is the Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. As Chairman, Cummings’ expresses concerns early in the hearing about:

  • Documents and “other corroborating evidence” indicating President Trump reimbursed Cohen for hush money payments made to Stormy Daniels;
  • Mr. Cohen’s account of a meeting in 2016 whereby efforts to damage Hilary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign were discussed; and
  • Some members’ — of the Republican Party — attempts to prevent the public from hearing Cohen’s testimony.

Let’s Talk About It

About the Author

Olivia P. Walker is a local government campaign advisor and public affairs analyst. Prior to these roles, Olivia served as governance consultant for the International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering (ISPE). Before that, she worked as government affairs and public policy analyst for WellCare Health Plans, a Fortune 500 health insurer.

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Olivia P. Walker

Olivia holds a master’s degree in public administration from the University of South Florida School of Public Affairs. In 2016, Olivia was duly initiated into Pi Alpha Alpha, the Global Honor Society for Public Affairs and Administration.  Finally, Olivia  is a member of the American Society for Public Administration and a member of the ASPA Section on Public Law and Administration

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Nonprofits and Democracy

Dark Money, Nonprofits and American Democracy|Part 1

Dark Money, Nonprofits and American Democracy

  • Nonprofits are tax-exempt organizations classified under section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC).
    • The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) classifies nonprofits into more than 30 categories. For the IRS, what is important is the exemption of nonprofits from the corporate income tax.
  • Dark money refers to political spending by nonprofits classified under sections 501(c)(4), 501(c)(5),and 501(c)(6) of the IRC, and other entities.
    •  Dark money groups — A dark money group refers to an organization which seeks to influence people to vote a certain way during elections, where donors are “not disclosed and the source of the money is unknown” (Center for Responsive Politics).
  • Nonprofit advocacy and interest group participation are rights guaranteed  by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
    • Many nonprofits are interest groups. For example, the National Rifle Association (NRA) is a membership interest group.
  • The Constitution gives Congress taxing authority.
    • The IRS is the executive authority charged with implementing tax laws enacted by Congress|Remember: Congress makes laws and the Executive Branch implements laws.

Nonprofits and American Democracy

A crucial element in a democratic society is the notion that every citizen has the right to take part in the political process. That is, a system of governance in which the ideals and preferences of all people are considered in the actions taken by government.

What is Nonprofit Advocacy?

Nonprofit advocacy describes the efforts of the sector to educate government officials, solicit broad support, and advance policy goals. Individuals cannot influence policy alone. Therefore, amassing support and resources increases the likelihood an issue makes the agenda for consideration by legislators.

How Might Nonprofit Advocacy Strengthen Democracy?

People cannot influence public policy alone. Historically, nonprofits have strengthened democracy by generating the networks, public support, financial capacity, and government commitment required to influence public policy and keep our democracy in tact. For example:

  • Nonprofit advocacy and grassroots movements led by ordinary citizens compelled President Lyndon B. Johnson to address poverty and civil rights in the 1960s.
    • The Civil Rights Act of 1964 — nominally — banned employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, among other things.
  • Similarly, nonprofit advocacy and the Tea Party’s grassroots movement in 2010 energized conservative voters and helped Republicans win political offices across the country during the 2010 midterm elections.

Both examples provide valuable insights about how nonprofits strengthen democracy. By generating the networks, public support, financial capacity, and government commitment required to influence public policy, citizens took part in political processes. Finally, in both cases, the ideals and preferences of many people were ultimately considered in the actions taken by government.

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How Might Nonprofit Advocacy Diminish Democracy?

There are some ways nonprofits and nonprofit advocacy diminish — or undermine — democracy.

Dark Money

Dark money and dark money groups are examples of how nonprofit advocacy might diminish democracy.  Provided by PBS, a recently released documentary titled Dark Money, “Examines one of the greatest present threats to American democracy: the influence of untraceable corporate money on our elections and elected officials.” The video trailer is a good primer on dark money and its impact on democracy.

This article is part one of a three-part series.  Part two explores more ways nonprofits might strengthen and diminish democracy. While this article provides an introductory overview, part two offers a deep-dive into the topic.

[WellCare Health Plans Paid For My Silence]

Nonprofit Advocacy Resources 

  • Political nonprofits  — The IRS website provides definitions and resources for people who want to learn more about the various nonprofit classifications, to include information about political nonprofits and the criteria upon which nonprofits are classified.
  • Treasury Department and the IRS Announce Significant Tax-Reforms — Click the link to view the Trump Administration’s new rule (published July 2018) on dark money groups and other political nonprofits.
  • GuideStar  — GuideStar is an excellent resource for people interested in learning more about nonprofit organizations. For example, GuideStar offers website users free access reports about nonprofits:
    • IRS Form 990 — Tax-exempt organizations must file Tax Form 990. Anyone interested in viewing the tax returns of nonprofit organizations such as the NRA, Sierra Club, NAACP, and chambers of commerce can do so for free on the GuideStar website.
    • Financial Information  —  If you want to know how much nonprofit executives make, an agency’s annual  revenue, and the sources of the agency’s revenue, GuideStar is a useful resource.

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About the Author| Olivia P. Walker is a public affairs and administration professional.  Olivia’s contract as governance consultant for the International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering  expired September 30, 2018. Prior to this role, Olivia served as government affairs and public policy Analyst for WellCare Health Plans, a Fortune 500 health insurer. Olivia is a graduate of the University of South Florida School of Public Affairs. She graduated from the Master of public administration program in 2015 with a 3.92 GPA. Olivia was duly initiated into Pi Alpha Alpha, the Global Honor Society for Public Affairs and Administration by the USF Chapter in November 2016. She also holds a Graduate Certificate in Globalization Studies. The certificate is a specialized graduate-level credential reflecting knowledge of the most up-to-date research on globalization. Olivia is a member of the American Society for Public Administration.  
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Olivia taught nonprofits and public policy at the University of South Florida both as an adjunct faculty member and as a graduate teaching assistant.


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