Russians offered ‘political synergy’
DONALD Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen was in touch as far back as 2015 with a Russian who offered “political synergy” with the Trump election campaign and proposed a meeting between the candidate and Russian President Vladimir Putin, the federal special counsel said yesterday.
Court filings from prosecutors and special counsel Robert Mueller’s office laid out previously undisclosed contacts between Trump associates and Russian intermediaries and suggested the Kremlin aimed to influence Mr Trump‘s campaign by playing to his political aspirations and his personal business interests.
The filings, in cases involving Mr Cohen and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, capped a dramatic week of revelations in Mr Mueller’s probe into co-ordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.
They bring the legal peril from multiple investigations closer than ever to Mr Trump, pictured, tying him to illegal hush money and contradicting his claims he had nothing to do with Russia. They make clear how witnesses previously close to Mr Trump have since provided damaging information about him in efforts to come clean to the Government and in some cases get lighter prison sentences.
In hours of interviews with prosecutors, witnesses have offered up information about pivotal episodes under examination, including possible collusion with Russia and payments during the campaign to silence porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal who said they had sex with Mr Trump a decade earlier.
In one of the filings, Mr Mueller details how Mr Cohen spoke to a Russian who “claimed to be a ‘trusted person’ in the Russian Federation who could offer the campaign ‘political synergy’ and ‘synergy on a government level’.” Mr Cohen admitted last week to lying to Congress by saying discussions about a Trump Tower in Moscow ended in January 2016 when in fact they stretched into that June, well into the US election campaign.
Mr Cohen is facing 3½ years in prison. On another front, Mr Trump, never known for taking criticism lying down, responded to unkind words from his former secretary of state Rex Tillerson yesterday by calling Mr Tillerson “dumb as a rock” and “lazy as hell.” Mr Tillerson on Friday called Mr Trump “undisciplined” and said the US President “doesn’t like to read, doesn’t read briefing reports, doesn’t like to get into the details of a lot of things”.
Mr Tillerson also said Mr Trump frequently asked him to do things that he had to explain were illegal or otherwise ill-advised.
It was an extraordinary rebuke from a man Mr Trump once said would be “a star” at the State Department.