In Black and Write

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In Black and Write

Anja H. and Lizzie P., Staff Writers

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Welcome to the Bulldog Tribune’s new column In Black and Write. In this column we, Anja Herrman and Lizzie Phelan will explain the hottest political news in terms that are easy to understand and pronounce. Today’s article is about Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen, two people charged with committing crimes related to the Trump Organization and Trump campaign.

Michael D Cohen, 52, is the former Vice President Executive of the Trump Organization and in January of 2017 became President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer. Cohen is Jewish, resides and practices law in Long Island, NY and married Ukrainian Laura Shusterman in 1995.

    Cohen was selected to be Donald Trump’s personal attorney in January of 2017.  Cohen has been the Trump Organization’s attorney since 2000. Cohen was chosen to be Trump’s lawyer for a important case involving bad touches and good touches. Cohen reportedly shares the Republican political views of the President. Mr. Cohen was not previously known in the political sphere other then his run for New York City Council in 2003.  

    Mr. Cohen was charged with 5 counts of tax evasion. Tax evasion is when you are purposely and knowingly not telling the full story or lying on your taxes to either lower your taxes or increase the money you get from the government every year.  Cohen committed tax evasion from 2012-2016, year 16 also with and acting for the Trump campaign. He was also charged with 1 count of exceeding the limit of the amount of money a company can give to a candidate, 1 count of breaking the rules on how much money one person could give to a campaign and 1 count of lying about the amount of money the Trump campaign had in 2016.

     Paul John Manafort Jr., 69, is known as a lobbyist, someone who tries to persuade lawmakers, a political consultant, someone who helps, assists, and consults political campaigns, and a lawyer.  

    Manafort is partly known for his role in the Russian and Ukrainian government. In fact, he was said to have been paid over $60 million for lobbying, or politically influencing, U.S. lawmakers on behalf of the Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych. Yanukovych was a pro-Russian leader and had close political relationships with Russian president Vladimir Putin. He paid Manafort from 2006-2014 to persuade the U.S. law on account of the Russian and Ukrainian government. Because of this accusation, Manafort has been charged with money laundering, or hiding the profits from Russia and Ukraine by an illegal approach. He would have reason to do this because in the U.S., the more money someone earns, the more money they have to pay in taxes. Prosecutors, or the people who accuse someone that is thought to be committing an illegal action or actions, say that Manafort hid his profits, because he didn’t want to give up a larger amount of money than he originally had to pay. Manafort is said to have hidden the profits from the U.S. by lying to banks and holding his profits in foreign bank accounts, or accounts that have money protected by banks that are not apart of the U.S. All of these actions are illegal. However, Manafort’s income from Ukraine stopped paying Manafort in 2014 when Viktor Yanukovych, the Ukraine president, escaped to Russia from an uprising, or period of protesting due to a need of changes in a government system, in the country. Because of this, Manafort is also accused of committing bank fraud, or the act of illegally taking money from a bank by pretending to be another bank, in order to maintain his luxurious lifestyle in which he spent his money on from Ukraine. During this, the defense team, or the team of people trying to defend the person or people being accused of illegal actions, claim that Manafort was being helped by his political and business partner Richard Gates. Although, Gates has claimed that he is in fact guilty of the accusations made against him, putting Manafort in a complex situation.

     In addition to his charges, Manafort was also accused of violating a federal disclosure law, or failing to register and notify the U.S. if you are going to lobby, or persuade lawmakers. This is also illegal. Finally, Manafort was also accused of committing obstruction of justice, which is obstructing, or not permitting, prosecutors and other government officials from doing their job. In other words, Manafort was accused of blocking prosecutors and officials from investigating him, which is illegal, because prosecutors and government officials have the right to investigate someone or some people that are accused of committing an illegal action.

    Because of all these accusations, a trial was held in Alexandria, Virginia from July 31 to August 21, determining Manafort’s innocence or guilt in terms of his financial accusations. Of these accusations, their were 18 counts, or distinct charges apart of one accusation that has been committed multiple times by the defendant, or the person being accused of an illegal action. During the trial, Manafort was proven guilty on 8 counts of the 18 that he was accused of. Another trial will take place in Washington D.C. on September 17 to continue the trial held in Virginia, as well as to address other accusations made of Manafort. Mr. Cohen is also awaiting sentencing of his crimes.

    This column will cover more on this story in the third edition of the Bulldog Tribune that comes out late September to early October due to Manafort’s upcoming second trial.

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