Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former lawyer, will be sentenced Wednesday after he pleaded guilty to tax evasion and campaign contribution violations, as well as lying to Congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow in the runup to the 2016 presidential election.
The sentencing will culminate a swift fall from grace for Cohen, who spent more than a decade working for Trump and for his organization before getting caught up in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Cohen is now cooperating with the special counsel’s probe, and has also cooperated with federal prosecutors in New York, where he is being sentenced Wednesday by a federal judge.
Ahead of the sentencing, here’s a timeline to help keep track of the federal probe in New York and Cohen’s involvement in the Russia investigation. Some of these entries also live in PBS NewsHour Correspondent Lisa Desjardins’ interactive, frequently updated giant Russia timeline. Check out the full timeline here.
2006: Cohen joins the the Trump Organization as an attorney and executive.
May 27, 2013: Cohen tells Page Six that Trump is considering a presidential run, and spent $1 million on research.
September 2015: On Sean Hannity’s radio show, Cohen says there’s a “better than likely” chance Trump will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin later that month during the United Nations General Assembly. (The meeting did not happen).
October 2015: Trump’s company signs a letter of intent to build a Trump Tower project in Moscow. Michael Cohen and the businessman Felix Sater worked on the deal.
November 2015: Sater emails Michael Cohen, bragging about his Putin connection, and saying they would soon elect Trump president.
November 2015: Cohen reportedly communicates with Russian weightlifter Dmitry Klokov, who says he can arrange a meeting with Putin. Cohen declined, but Ivanka Trump, Trump’s eldest daughter, helped connect the two men.
November 2015: Cohen first spoke to a Russian national who claimed to be a “trusted person” in the Russia government and offered “political synergy” with Trump’s campaign, according to a Mueller court document filed in December 2018.
Jan. 14 and 16, 2016: Cohen emails Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov asking for help with the Trump Tower Moscow deal.
Jan. 20, 2016: An assistant to Russian spokesman Peskov emails Cohen and asks to talk.
Jan. 21, 2016: “Individual 2,” identified by the Washington Post as Sater, emails Cohen about Putin, writing that “they called today,” according to court documents.
May 4, 2016: Cohen and “Individual 2,” or Sater, write about trips to Moscow for him and Trump, according to court documents.
May 5, 2016: “Individual 2,” reported to be Sater, tells Cohen that Peskov wants him to come to Russia in June, 2016, according to court documents.
June 2016: As late as this month, Cohen was still working on a possible Trump Tower deal in Moscow, he later told federal investigators.
June 14, 2016: On or near this date, Cohen tells Sater he will not be going to Russia, according to court documents.
Late August or early September 2016: There is evidence Cohen went to Prague via Germany during this time. Former British intelligence source Christopher Steele’s dossier alleges the purpose of the trip was to secretly meet with Russians. Cohen insisted he was never in Prague.
October 2016: Stephanie Clifford, the adult film star known as Stormy Daniels, signs a document with Cohen, agreeing to get paid in exchange for not go public about her allegations of a sexual encounter with Trump in the mid-2000s. A shell company created by Cohen wires Clifford a $130,000 payment.
Oct. 19, 2016: Steele writes in his dossier that a Kremlin insider told him about “the importance” of Trump lawyer Cohen in the “ongoing secret liaison relationship” with the Kremlin, and that Cohen’s role had grown following the departure of campaign chair Paul Manafort.
January-August, 2017 (unknown dates): Cohen receives payments totaling $500,000 from investment firm Columbus Nova, whose biggest client is Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg. Columbus Nova said there was no connection between Vekselberg and hiring Cohen as a consultant.
Jan. 10, 2017: Cohen tweets, “I have never been to Prague in my life,” refuting a charge from the Steele dossier that he met Russians there in 2016.
Jan. 20, 2017: Cohen meets with Vekselberg at Trump’s inauguration.
Jan. 27, 2017: Businessman Felix Sater and Ukrainian Andrey Artemenko pitch Cohen a plan to lift sanctions on Russia and also allow the country to lease Crimea.
Feb. 6, 2017: According to the New York Times, Cohen delivers this pro-Russia peace plan to then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn at the White House. The White House later denied receiving the plan, and Cohen said he did not discuss it nor hand it over to anyone at the White House. (Shortly after, Flynn, who is now cooperating with Mueller’s probe, resigned after misleading Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with Russia.)
April 3, 2017: The Republican National Committee announces that Cohen will become its national deputy chairman.
Aug. 14, 2017: Cohen sends a letter to congressional investigators disputing the Steele dossier that was made public in January.
Oct. 25, 2017: Cohen testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee. He later admits to lying in his prepared statement and remarks.
April 9, 2018: The FBI raids Cohen’s home, office and hotel room, seizing records. Reports indicate he is under investigation for campaign finance violations and bank fraud.
April 25, 2018: Cohen asserts his Fifth Amendment right not to testify in the case involving Stephanie Clifford.
April 26, 2018: Trump tells Fox News that Cohen handled a “tiny, tiny fraction” of his legal work.
June 15, 2018: Trump criticizes the FBI raid on Cohen’s office, and says he “feels badly” for him and others who are under prosecution.
Aug. 7, 2018: Cohen meets with Mueller’s team for the first time and lies to them about the Trump Organization project in Moscow he was helping negotiate in 2016.
Aug. 21, 2018: Cohen pleads guilty to eight counts of tax and finance violations in federal court. He says that Trump directed him to break campaign finance laws when he orchestrated payments to Clifford and another woman in exchange for them staying silent about alleged affairs with Trump.
Aug. 22, 2018: Trump writes on Twitter that he feels bad for Manafort, but not for Cohen, because he “broke” and lied to prosecutors in order to get a deal.
Sept. 12, 2018: Cohen meets with Mueller’s team a second time and admits he misled them about the Moscow project.
Nov. 29, 2018: Cohen pleads guilty in federal court to lying to Congress about his knowledge of Trump’s Moscow project.
Dec. 7, 2018: Federal prosecutors in New York recommend “substantial” prison time for Cohen. Mueller’s team recommends that Cohen serve any sentences concurrently.