Pros­e­cu­tors seek prison time for Co­hen, de­tail Manafort’s al­leged lies in Rus­sia probe

The Globe and Mail (Alberta Edition) - - NEWS - NATHAN LAYNE BREN­DAN PIER­SON

Fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors on Fri­day asked a judge to sen­tence U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s for­mer per­sonal lawyer, Michael Co­hen, to a “sub­stan­tial” prison term for pay­ing an adult film star hush money on Mr. Trump’s be­half and evad­ing taxes, and de­tailed al­leged lies by an­other for­mer Trump aide.

Mr. Co­hen, who has been co-op­er­at­ing with Spe­cial Coun­sel Robert Mueller’s probe into pos­si­ble col­lu­sion be­tween Rus­sia and Mr. Trump’s 2016 elec­tion cam­paign, pleaded guilty to fi­nan­cial crimes in Au­gust in New York, and to a sep­a­rate charge of ly­ing to Congress in a case dis­closed by Mr. Mueller last week.

Pros­e­cu­tors in both those cases were re­quired to sub­mit sep­a­rate memos on Mr. Co­hen’s co-op­er­a­tion to U.S. Dis­trict Jus­tice Wil­liam Pauley in Man­hat­tan, who will de­cide Mr. Co­hen’s sen­tence on Dec. 12.

Press­ing the judge to re­ject Mr. Co­hen’s re­quest he be spared prison, the New York pros­e­cu­tors de­scribed Mr. Co­hen in their fil­ing as be­ing mo­ti­vated by “per­sonal greed” and said he “re­peat­edly used his power and in­flu­ence for de­cep­tive ends.”

They said Mr. Co­hen should re­ceive some credit for co-op­er­at­ing with Mr. Mueller but noted he had not en­tered into a co-op­er­a­tion agree­ment with their of­fice. They said his sen­tence should re­flect a “mod­est” re­duc­tion from the four to five years they said fed­eral guide­lines would sug­gest.

Mr. Mueller said Mr. Co­hen had vol­un­tar­ily pro­vided in­for­ma­tion about his own and oth­ers’ con­duct on “core top­ics un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion” and de­scribed the in­for­ma­tion “cred­i­ble and consistent with other ev­i­dence” they had ob­tained.

Mr. Co­hen ad­mit­ted to ly­ing to con­gres­sional in­ves­ti­ga­tors in an at­tempt to min­i­mize his ef­forts to se­cure the Krem­lin’s help in 2016 for a planned Trump sky­scraper in Moscow. He has said he did so to stay in sync with Mr.

Trump’s po­lit­i­cal mes­sag­ing and con­sulted with the White House while pre­par­ing to tes­tify.

In ad­di­tion to in­for­ma­tion on the Moscow tower pro­ject, Mr. Co­hen also told Mr. Mueller about a con­ver­sa­tion he had in Novem­ber, 2015, with a Rus­sian na­tional who of­fered the cam­paign “po­lit­i­cal syn­ergy” with Rus­sia and a meet­ing be­tween Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin. Mr. Co­hen did not fol­low up on the of­fer, the fil­ing says.

Cit­ing Mr. Co­hen’s co-op­er­a­tion, Mr. Mueller sug­gested the sen­tence for ly­ing to Congress run con­cur­rently with the sen­tence in the New York case.

Also on Fri­day, Mr. Mueller dis­closed de­tails of al­leged lies told by Mr. Trump’s for­mer cam­paign man­ager, Paul Manafort, dur­ing in­ter­views with pros­e­cu­tors. Last month, Mr. Mueller voided his plea agree­ment be­cause, they said, he was not telling the truth.

They said Mr. Manafort told “mul­ti­ple dis­cernible lies,” in­cludingabouthis­com­mu­ni­ca­tion­swith­apo­lit­i­cal­con­sul­tant will al­leged ties to Rus­sian in­tel­li­gence, and about in­ter­ac­tions with Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials even af­ter Mr. Manafort was first in­dicted in late 2017.

The Mueller probe has in­fu­ri­ated Mr. Trump, who has reg­u­larly is­sued tweets crit­i­ciz­ing the spe­cial coun­sel and his team.

The Pres­i­dent has de­nied any col­lu­sion be­tween his cam­paign and Rus­sia, and ac­cuses Mr. Mueller’s pros­e­cu­tors of pres­sur­ing his for­mer aides to lie about him, his elec­tion cam­paign and his busi­ness deal­ings. Rus­sia has de­nied med­dling.

Fri­day’s dis­clo­sures sug­gest Mr. Mueller is mak­ing progress build­ing ev­i­dence of con­tacts be­tween Rus­sians and the Trump cam­paign, le­gal ex­perts said.

“Taken as a whole, the con­tentions … punc­tu­ate the point that the gov­ern­ment has a tremen­dous amount of in­for­ma­tion about what went on in the cam­paign and what went on af­ter­ward,” said Mark Zaud­erer, a New York-based ap­pel­late lawyer.

In new tweets on Fri­day, Mr. Trump ac­cused fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tors and se­nior of­fi­cials of hav­ing con­flicts of in­ter­est, with­out of­fer­ing any ev­i­dence. White House spokes­woman Sarah Huck­abee San­ders said on Fri­day that Mr. Co­hen has “re­peat­edly lied” and that Mr. Manafort’s case had ab­so­lutely noth­ing to do with the Pres­i­dent.

Demo­cratic Sen­a­tor Dianne Fe­in­stein said the dis­clo­sures should un­der­score the im­por­tance of the Mueller in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“These le­gal doc­u­ments out­line se­ri­ous and crim­i­nal wrong­do­ing, in­clud­ing felony vi­o­la­tions of cam­paign fi­nance laws at the di­rec­tion of Pres­i­dent Trump,” she said in a state­ment.

Cit­ing Mr. Co­hen’s co-op­er­a­tion, Mr. Mueller sug­gested the sen­tence for ly­ing to Congress run con­cur­rently with the sen­tence in the New York case.

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