“I cannot predict what the result will be as the precise facts are not known, but based on public reports, my view is that at least some discipline is likely,” said Dan Abrams, a New York City-based defense attorney who specializes in legal malpractice and business litigation.

“Mr. Cohen is apparently admitting to paying a lot of money to settle a matter which could have ended in litigation without his client’s consent or knowledge,” Abrams said, outlining a legal Catch-22 for Cohen: Either he broke rules by negotiating without Trump’s knowledge and using his own money, or he broke another rule by lying about it.

If Cohen paid off Daniels without Trump’s consent, Abrams said, “this violates New York’s Rule of Professional Conduct 1.8(e) which prohibits an attorney from providing his client financial assistance in connection with contemplated litigation, with exceptions which do not apply here. If Trump did not know about the payments, it would probably violate Rule 1.2, which prohibits an attorney from settling a matter without client consent, and probably Rule 1.4, which requires the attorney to communicate with clients as reasonably necessary under the circumstances.”