President Trump's wall of secrecy – the work of his life – is beginning to crumble.
His longtime lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to breaking laws to finance the campaign last week and said he arranged hawk money payments to two women in Trump's direction. Both a boulevard manager – who had served Trump by eradicating harmful stories before they went public – as well as Trump's chief financial officer testified in the case.
All three were part of the small circle of family members, longtime helpers and confidants who have long played a pivotal role in Trump's strategy of shielding the details of his private life and his business from prying outsiders.
But, as their collaboration with prosecutors shows, a growing number of legal challenges ̵
The result was a moment when Trump seems politically wounded, as friends and embarrassing revelations leaked over his alleged affairs and his charity, unconfined. In the coming months, certain cases could force Trump's companies to open their books on foreign government clients, or force the president to testify about his relationships with women.
"The myth of Trump is now unraveling," said Barbara Res, a Trump Organizing Director from 1978 to 1996. "He's becoming more and more obvious and people are beginning to know what he's like and what he's doing."
It is unclear whether the president is exposed to legal risks, but his presidency is precarious. Recent polls indicate that his repeated attacks on Mueller for leading a "witch hunt" have lost their effectiveness. And if the Democrats win a majority in at least one House of Congress in less than 10 weeks in the midterm elections, they would have the power to investigate or even sue.
"The whole reason why he freaks out is he I can not get rid of it," said a long-time Advisor to Trump, who, as others interviewed for this story, spoke on the condition of anonymity to the internal dynamics of whites To discuss house.
The President's betrayal came last week when he mocked the co-operating witnesses as "pinball". "Everything is wonderful and then they get 10 years in prison and they – they turn around, whoever the next one is or as high as you can," he told Fox News. In contrast, he tweeted that his "brave" former campaign manager Paul Manafort, who was convicted last week of bank fraud and tax fraud, "refused" to break. "
Trump has also focused his anger on Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whom he has repeatedly and publicly attacked for his decision to withdraw from the investigations in Russia White House helpers have told him that firing sessions do not investigate But he remains angry, officials said, especially after Sessions had responded last week with a statement that "the actions of the Ministry of Justice are not unduly influenced by political considerations.
The Trump Organization did not want to comment on this story, as the White House asked questions from Trump's external lawyers who also refused to comment on the story.
Before this year, any explanation of Trump's secrecy with Cohen would have started, a lawyer threatening reporters with criminal charges over writing about Trump 19659013] Before last week, it would have started with Allen Weisselberg, the longtime CFO of the Trump organization.
If Cohen was an outsider, Weisselberg was the insider: a functionary Weisselberg started working for Trump's father decades ago.
"They're the same family," Weisselberg and the Trumps said, one person in the Trump organization said, "I think Allen deserves it. He's been around for a long time, and he's part of the family.
They helped create a world where Trump was the only reliable source of information about his finances, and although Trump often boasted about his wealth and business success, he avoided publishing hard evidence if he could.
In one case, he seemed to reject the idea of proof himself.What was Trump's net worth? It was, whatever he said.
"My net wealth fluctuates, and it goes with markets and with attitudes and feelings, even my own feelings "Up and down," Trump said in a 2007 deposition, after he had sued reporter Tim O'Brien for publishing an independent estimate of Trump's value .The lawsuit was dismissed.
When Trump entered politics, he came across He went to a new level of review.
While much attention was focused on his refusal, his tax returns, a break from today's presidential practice, Last week, court proceedings to publish more information about other ways how Trump the candidate tried to control his image.
Cohen's indictment revealed that the Trump organization had approved payments to Cohen amounting to $ 420,000 after Cohen had paid the silence of a woman claiming an affair with Trump
Weisselberg approved the payments as a fee for a "statutory advance", for a person who is familiar with his role. It was not clear from court documents if he knew that explanation was a farce. One person familiar with the situation said that Weisselberg did not know the nature of the settlement and approved the repayment because of Cohen's long-standing role as Advisor to Trump.
With guilty reproach, Cohen told court that he had made those decisions. in coordination with "Trump and how he directed, including paying the woman, which was an illegal campaign contribution."
The prosecution also said in their court records that Trump relied on an ally during his campaign: David Pecker, the managing director of American Media Inc., which owns the National Enquirer
Pecker turned his company from a secret counselor into a guard, prosecutors said, and in at least one case, the company paid a woman claiming she had an extra-marital relationship Trump then published nothing.
Weisselberg and Pecker, who had been bastions of Trump's secrecy in addition to Cohen, gained immunity to testify about Cohen's actions, and it is unclear whether that was the limit of their cooperation, whether they were about Cohen or whether prosectors have asked more questions about Trump or his company.
An AMI lawyer did not respond to requests for comments from Pecker. Neither Weisselberg nor company representatives answered his request for comments on his behalf.
For his years as a businessman and candidate, Trump's system was effective, though not perfect, to dismiss reporters' inquiries. But when he became president, Trump started a new kind of investigation, of people with lawsuits and subpoenas.
Well, there are at least seven of these requests, all asking for information about Trump or his company.
On the research front, Mueller researched deeply in Trump's campaign and in the White House and asked if the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia's efforts to influence the election and if Trump obstructed the judiciary to stop or slow the probe ,
Already four employees of Trump's campaign in 2016 have pleaded guilty or convicted because of the ongoing work of Mueller. Mueller has also examined some aspects of Trump's dealings with Russia, notably Cohen's efforts to launch a Trump Tower Moscow project during the campaign. The case of Cohen, led by federal attorneys in Manhattan, has pointed to potential. The legal liability of Trump and his company, experts have said – though Trump and his lawyers have attacked Cohen in the past few days as unreliable witnesses.
If the prosecution concludes that Trump himself has done something illegal, it is unclear what they will do] The Ministry of Justice has an official instruction that a president can not be charged in office because this is the ability of the president To fulfill obligations under the Constitution would unduly impair. But a president could be described in a grand jury report as an "un-matched conspirator" or gather evidence that Congress could use in impeachment proceedings.
In addition to these federal investigations, the New York Attorney General has already filed. Www.wcc-assembly.info/de/theme-issu…duction.html He turned against Trump and claimed to support his charity Donald J. This case internal documents provided by Trump's company and testimonies from Weisselberg that handled the books of the Foundation.
The state is now investigating whether prosecution should be brought in this case.
And in addition, Trump faces several lawsuits that could further penetrate his business and personal life.
The attorneys in Maryland and the district sued him for alleged violations of the constitution's "compensation clauses" that prevent presidents from taking payments from foreign governments or US states.
The plaintiffs say that these clauses should prevent Trump's company, which he still owns, from doing business with foreign officials. They have already won some preliminary victories in court. And they're soon looking for Trump Organization records, including those at his luxury hotel in Washington DC, which has become a popular destination for Trump allies and political groups.
Also, a group of Democratic members of Congress have filed a compensation clause. While the New York Attorney General is considering one of her own, she focuses on Trump's business there.
Meanwhile, Summer Zervos, a former candidate on "The Apprentice," Trump's reality TV show, has sued Trump for slander. Zervos claims that Trump aggressively kissed and fondled her when she sought employment with his company, and that he slandered her by later denying this report and calling her a liar.
Other legal challenges may follow For New York Attorney General Zephyr Teachout (D), there are promises this year to aggressively investigate the Trump organization should it be elected.
"The line between [the company and the Trump campaign] that should be absolute looks very blurry and raises everything on types of questions about civil and criminal violations," Teachout said after Cohen's guilty plea.
At the Trump organization, people close to the company said the impact of these investigations had led to an overburdening of legal personnel. Corporate lawyers are also addressing mundane challenges, such as a new lawsuit in Illinois alleging that the Trump Tower in Chicago violates environmental laws designed to protect the Chicago River.
Within the White House, the impact of these requests and the intense The press coverage should distract Trump from disloyalty.
The revelations about the collaboration of his advisors with the prosecutors had crystallized immediately after the publication of a narrative book by one of his former White House staff. Omarosa Manigault Newman, a Trump ally from her days as a star on "The Apprentice", had filmed in her own way – declared Trump unfit for the presidency and use her frequent national television appearances to screen her collection of secret shots from inside West Wing.
Trump complained to consultants about Cohen and said he could not trust anyone. He was distracted in discussions and had interviewed staff about the developments in these cases, reported several employees.
Worried that White House lawyer Donald McGahn had turned to him, counselors reported after the New York Times reported sitting for 30 hours of questions. He complained about sessions, his Attorney General, on Twitter and on television.
Trump has long recognized any investigative interest in his business as a step too far, say West Wing adviser, and allies said he was frustrated by the slump in his pre-presidential life.
"If they did it to anyone in our country, they would hunt down technical issues," said John Catsimatidis, a Trump friend and New York billionaire criticizing the investigation.  In a possible sign of the strain on Trump this week, the President fired an All-Caps tweet condemning the investigation. "NO COLLUSION – RIGGED WITCH HUNT!" Trump wrote Trump on the second day after Cohen's statement of guilt.
The Time of Tweet : 1:10
Carol D. Leonnig, Jonathan O & # 39; Connell, Devlin Barrett and Sarah Ellison have contributed to this report.