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Michael Cohen disavows parts of guilty plea in recorded phone call with Tom Arnold: report

The Hill logo The Hill 4/24/2019 John Bowden

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Video by The Wall Street Journal.

President Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen reportedly told comedian Tom Arnold that he is not guilty of some of the charges for which he pleaded guilty, and expressed frustration at the length of his sentence and a lack of support from those in Washington.

In recordings of a March phone call Arnold provided to The Wall Street Journal, Cohen decried being "a man all alone" in Washington while insisting that some of the charges, including one related to his home equity line of credit (HELOC), were lies.

"There is no tax evasion," he told Arnold, according to the Journal. "And the HELOC? I have an 18 percent loan-to-value on my home. How could there be a HELOC issue? How? Right? ... It's a lie."

"I love this woman, and I am not going to let her get dragged into the mud of this crap," Cohen added, referring to his wife, who he said was also targeted by prosecutors. "And I never thought the judge was going to throw a three-year fricking sentence."

Cohen has reportedly pushed the Democratic chairs of several congressional committees to send letters to prosecutors indicating his cooperation with their investigations in the hopes of obtaining a reduced sentence, though there is no indication they have granted his request.

"You would think that you would have folks, you know, stepping up and saying, 'You know what, this guy's lost everything,' " Cohen said, according to the Journal, appearing to refer to the lawmakers.

"My family's happiness, and my law license," Cohen reportedly continued. "I lost my business ... my insurance, my bank accounts, all for what? All for what? Because Trump, you know, had an affair with a porn star? That's really what this is about."

a man wearing a suit and tie: Michael Cohen disavows parts of guilty plea in recorded phone call with Tom Arnold: report © Stefani Reynolds Michael Cohen disavows parts of guilty plea in recorded phone call with Tom Arnold: report Cohen is set to begin a three-year prison sentence in the coming weeks after pleading guilty last year to a number of financial crimes.

Among other charges, he pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations related to his payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, two women who alleged affairs with Trump.

Cohen testified before Congress earlier this year that he made the payments at Trump's direction, and that he had assisted Trump with other criminal acts, including misrepresenting his assets to local tax authorities.

His case was referred to investigators in New York by special counsel Robert Mueller's office.

Cohen's attorney, Lanny Davis, said in a statement that nothing Cohen said to Arnold "contradicts Mr. Cohen's previous defense attorney, Guy Petrillo, in his sentencing memorandum to the presiding federal US District Court Judge William H. Pauley III back in December."

"I would also add the important words used by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and others, in describing Michael Cohen's cooperation and testimony as 'credible' addressing the 'core"' issues involved in his investigation," Davis added.

Cohen and Arnold have known each other for months, and Arnold told NBC News last year that the two were working together on "taking Trump down."

Arnold has been working since Trump's election to obtain unaired tapes of recording sessions of "The Apprentice," the president's former reality TV show, on which Trump is alleged to have made racist and other inappropriate remarks.

Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani responded to Cohen's remarks Wednesday in a tweet, calling it "Poetic justice for a disbarred lawyer who surreptitiously recorded his client and numerous others including [CNN's] Chris Cuomo."

- This report was updated at 3:25 p.m.

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