A former top aide to President Donald Trump has been charged with conspiring to steal classified documents, a felony, after he allegedly tried to bribe the FBI to let him take notes and tape the sessions, according to a federal indictment.
In a press conference Friday, special counsel Robert Mueller announced the indictment against former White House adviser Michael Cohen and his wife, Lisa.
The charges stem from a criminal investigation that began last month, the Justice Department said.
“Mr. Cohen and Lisa Cohen conspired to commit a crime,” Mueller said in a statement.
“These charges are a consequence of that conspiracy.
They are part of an effort to bring those involved to justice.”
Cohen was the White House chief of staff for a decade and a former national security adviser to President Barack Obama.
The indictment did not identify the alleged crimes committed by the former staffers.
“This is a very serious matter,” Cohen’s attorney, Benjamin Brafman, told reporters Friday.
“This is not a political matter.
This is a serious matter.”
In his statement, Brafman added: “The Cohen Defendants will plead not guilty to these charges.
We are confident that a fair and impartial jury will find this case without prejudice.”
The charges are the latest in a string of corruption and obstruction of justice allegations leveled against President Donald J. Trump.
Last week, the White Trump Organization paid a $500,000 fine for its role in the purchase of luxury apartments in New York City that the government said were for the president’s private use.
Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was charged with money laundering, obstruction of Congress, and perjury.