Michael Cohen, the former personal attorney to Donald Trump, pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance laws and other charges on Aug. 21, 2018.

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY

It's 'A Bad Day For Mr. Trump,' According To Lawyer Trump Labeled 'RAT'

John Dean talks to KCBS Radio

KCBS Radio Afternoon News
August 21, 2018 - 3:54 pm

The guilty plea from President Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen on campaign finance charges and other crimes could be very damaging to Trump, according to former White House counsel John Dean.

Cohen told a federal judge in Manhattan that he made payments to two women at Trump’s behest to silence claims before the 2016 election that the women had had affairs with Trump. Although Cohen did not name the women it is believed that they are adult film actor Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal.

“Michael Cohen has pretty clearly established we have a criminal for a president,” said Dean, himself a central figure in the Watergate scandal that drove ex-President Richard Nixon from office. Dean made the comments in a phone interview on Tuesday with KCBS Radio. “It certainly is a bad day for Mr. Trump, but it’s a bad day for the country when we have this kind of problem.”

Trump has offered differing explanations, but at times denied knowing about the hush money. Investigators will likely scrutinize Trump's role in those payments. 

Dean had recently been disparaged as a "RAT" by Trump on Twitter. Trump mentioned Dean in response to a New York Times article which said Don McGahn, the current White House counsel, had provided hours of cooperative testimony to Robert Mueller's special investigation. 

Dean publicly testified before the Senate's Watergate committee in 1973 that Nixon participated direclty in attempts to cover up the break-in at the Democratic National Committee's office.

On the same day of Cohen's plea, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was found guilty on eight of 18 charges for financial crimes, including bank fraud and tax evasion. Those crimes largely stemmed from Manafort’s actions prior to becoming Trump’s campaign chair in 2016.

Manafort's conviction arose from evidence gathered by Mueller's team. It was the first trial conviction from Mueller's probe into figures from the 2016 election. 

“That’s an opening shot and it will evolve,” Dean said, referring to Mueller’s work.

Dean said this has likely created havoc for current White House lawyers.

“They’re not having a good day,” said Dean. “Their boss has been seriously implicated in criminal behavior.”

Dean's full interview is available below.