Cohen asks public to fund legal battle to ensure truth about Trump comes out


NEW YORK (AP)

Mired in financial woes, Michael Cohen is sticking his hand out and asking the public for help paying for his legal defense, and one anonymous donor already has ponied up $50,000.

Through his lawyer, Donald Trump’s former “fixer” says collecting contributions through a GoFundMe page set up after his guilty plea this week is the only way to ensure the truth comes out about the president.

It’s also the latest sign that Cohen is broke.

Trump’s former personal lawyer owes at least $1.4 million to the IRS after pleading guilty Tuesday to tax evasion, campaign finance violations and bank fraud, and has racked up millions of dollars in debt. Because of his plea, he’s being forced to give up his New York City taxi medallions, which have shrunk in value as Uber and Lyft shake up the industry.

“He’s without resources and owes a lot of money,” Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, said in a battery of television interviews on Wednesday.

Cohen, who once said he would “take a bullet” for Trump, commented in court on Tuesday that Trump directed him to arrange payments of $130,000 to porn star Stormy Daniels and $150,000 to former Playboy model Karen McDougal to buy their silence about alleged affairs before the election.

While Trump denies the affairs, his account of his knowledge of the payments has shifted. In April, Trump denied he knew anything about the Daniels payment. He told Fox News in an interview aired Thursday that he knew about payments “later on.”

By Thursday afternoon, the GoFundMe page dubbed the “Michael Cohen Truth Fund” had raised more than $145,000 from about 2,600 donations. Most reaction on social media was incredulous and unsympathetic, but one $5 donor was encouraging, writing: “The USA would love you for your honesty.”

Confusion over the web address for the fundraising page, michaelcohentruthfund.com , led someone on Wednesday to anonymously register a shorter version, michaelcohentruth.com , that redirects to Trump’s re-election campaign website.

Cohen’s crowdfunding campaign, which has a goal of raising $500,000, could be a way for Cohen to bolster his whistleblower status by appealing to Democrats and others who want to see Trump taken down.

It’s not the first time someone who felt wronged by Trump has asked the public to pony up. Fired former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe raked in more than $500,000 in just five days of his legal defense campaign, and Daniels funded her lawsuit against the president with about $500,000 raised from nearly 17,000 donors.

Cohen could ultimately need much more to wipe his books clean.

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