A photo of Michael Cohen.

Photo credit: JStone / Shutterstock

Michael Cohen, the man who once said he would take a bullet for Donald Trump, has now implicated the president in what could very well be one of the biggest political scandals in U.S. history.

On Tuesday, Cohen pled guilty to eight criminal charges. In a stunning confession, Cohen told the court that he broke campaign finance laws “in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office.”

Cohen’s testimony has serious merit, given that he served as Trump’s personal attorney for several years. This is the smoking gun that prosecutors have been waiting for.

Civics Lesson: Plea Bargains

A judge with a gavel.A plea bargain is a deal that is struck between a prosecutor and a defendant in which the defendant agrees to plead guilty in exchange for some type of concession from the prosecutor, often a reduction in prison time.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

“These are very serious charges that reflect a pattern of lies and dishonesty,” said Deputy US Attorney Robert Khuzami. “They are significant in their own right. They are particularly significant when done by a lawyer.”

Although Trump was never explicitly named, the implications are crystal clear given the context of the charges. Documents put forth by the prosecution, for example, reference payments that were made to women (porn star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal) in exchange for their silence:

“In or about August 2015, the Chairman and Chief Executive of Corporation-1 (“Chairman-1″), in coordination with MICHAEL COHEN, the defendant, and one or more members of the campaign, offered to help deal with negative stories about Individual-l’s relationships with women by, among other things, assisting the campaign in identifying such stories so they could be purchased and their publication avoided. Chairman-1 agreed to keep COHEN apprised of any such negative stories.”

Cohen is facing up to 65 years in prison. His sentencing date is set for December 12, 2018.

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