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Trump's ex-lawyer Cohen cooperating in Mueller probe: report

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President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen has spent hours over the past month being interviewed by investigators of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, ABC News reported Thursday.

[WASHINGTON] President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen has spent hours over the past month being interviewed by investigators of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, ABC News reported Thursday.

Cohen, once one of Mr Trump's top aides, began talking with the Mueller investigation after he pleaded guilty on August 21 to bank fraud and campaign finance violations in an agreement with New York prosecutors.

The 52-year-old New York lawyer and businessman "has participated over the last month in multiple interview sessions lasting for hours" with Mueller's team, ABC reported.

The report was likely bad news for Mr Trump as Mr Mueller's Russia collusion investigation increasingly closes in on the White House.

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One week ago, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort agreed in a plea deal with Mr Mueller to cooperate in the investigation.

Cohen did not make a commitment to cooperate when he pleaded guilty, but it was clear that cooperation could help him get a lighter sentence.

Mr Mueller is probing whether the Trump election campaign in 2016 colluded with Russian efforts to damage his opponent, Hillary Clinton, and whether Mr Trump has sought to illegally obstruct the investigation.

But the span of the investigation also reportedly encompasses Mr Trump's business dealings, to which Cohen had a front seat during the decade before the election as a senior executive in the president's real estate business in New York, the Trump Organization.

Cohen pleaded guilty to charges involving his arrangement of payouts of hush money just before the November 2016 vote to two women who claimed they had affairs with Mr Trump.

In the plea, Cohen stated that he had acted at his boss's request to buy their silence "with the purpose of influencing the election."

Cohen's lawyer Lanny Davis declined to comment on the ABC report, an aide said.

But after Cohen's guilty plea, Mr Davis said his client had decided "to put his family and country first and tell the truth about Donald Trump."

AFP