New York state’s tax department has subpoenaed Michael Cohen, the beleaguered former lawyer of US President Donald Trump.
The subpoena is in connection with a probe of the Trump Foundation charity and comes a day after Cohen pleaded guilty to eight criminal charges, including tax evasion, bank fraud, and campaign finance violations.
“We can confirm that a subpoena has been issued to Michael Cohen for relevant information in light of the public disclosures made yesterday,” James Gazzale, a spokesman for the state’s tax department, told The Associated Press.
Shortly after his guilty plea, Cohen’s attorney Lanny David said in an interview that Cohen has information that “would be of interest both in Washington as well as New York state”.
Any evidence of alleged crimes related to the charity will be referred to state Attorney-General Barbara Underwood.
In June, she filed a lawsuit against Trump, his children Ivanka, Eric and Donald Jr, and the foundation for allegedly using the charity for his own benefit, including his 2016 presidential campaign.
The Trump Foundation issued a statement criticising the lawsuit as “politics at its very worst” and accusing the attorney-general of holding its $1.7m in remaining funds “hostage for political gain”.
Among the transactions the lawsuit called illegal was a $10,000 payment to the Unicorn Children’s Foundation for a portrait of Trump purchased at a fundraising auction in 2014. The portrait ended up decorating a wall at Trump’s Doral golf resort near Miami, the Washington Post first reported.
Earlier this week, Cohen said he had paid sums of $130,000 and $150,000 each to two women who claimed they had affairs with Trump, acting at his boss’ request, in a bid to buy their silence “with the purpose of influencing the election”.
He did not name the women nor Trump, but said it was “in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office”, and the other was made “under direction of the same candidate”.
The payments to the women could be regarded as an illegal campaign expenditure if the money was clearly meant to influence the 2016 election.