Co­hen had con­tact with Rus­sian in 2015

Mueller says Trump’s for­mer lawyer told all

The Hamilton Spectator - - Canada & World - CHAD DAY, ERIC TUCKER AND JIM MUS­TIAN

WASH­ING­TON — U.S. Pres­i­dent 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, the fed­eral spe­cial coun­sel said Fri­day in a court fil­ing.

Fil­ings by pros­e­cu­tors from both New York and the TrumpRus­sia spe­cial coun­sel’s of­fice laid out for the first time de­tails of the co-op­er­a­tion of Co­hen, a vi­tal wit­ness who once said he’d “take a bul­let” for the pres­i­dent but who in re­cent months has be­come a prime an­tag­o­nist and pledged to come clean with the gov­ern­ment.

Fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors said Fri­day that Co­hen de­serves a sub­stan­tial prison sen­tence de­spite his co-op­er­a­tion with in­ves­ti­ga­tors. He is to be sen­tenced next week, and may face sev­eral years in prison.

In hours of meet­ings with pros­e­cu­tors, Co­hen de­tailed his in­ti­mate in­volve­ment in an ar­ray of episodes, in­clud­ing some that di­rectly touch the pres­i­dent, that are at the cen­tre of in­ves­ti­ga­tions into cam­paign fi­nance vi­o­la­tions and po­ten­tial col­lu­sion be­tween the Trump cam­paign and the Krem­lin.

In one of the fil­ings, Mueller de­tails how 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.’”

The fil­ing says the meet­ing never hap­pened.

Co­hen also dis­cussed a Moscow real es­tate deal that could have net­ted Trump’s busi­ness hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars and con­ver­sa­tions with a Rus­sian in­ter­me­di­ary who pro­posed a meet­ing be­tween Trump and Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin as well as of­fer­ing syn­ergy with the cam­paign, pros­e­cu­tors said.

Co­hen, dubbed Trump’s “le­gal fixer” in the past, also de­scribed his work in con­junc­tion with Trump in or­ches­trat­ing hush money pay­ments to two women — a porn star and a Play­boy model — who said they had sex with Trump a decade ear­lier. Pros­e­cu­tors in New York, where Co­hen pleaded guilty in Au­gust in con­nec­tion with those pay­ments, said the lawyer “acted in co-or­di­na­tion and at the di­rec­tion” of Trump.

De­spite such spe­cific al­le­ga­tions of Trump’s ac­tions, the pres­i­dent quickly tweeted af­ter news of the fil­ings: “To­tally clears the pres­i­dent. Thank you!”

In ad­di­tion, the fil­ings re­veal that Co­hen told pros­e­cu­tors he and Trump dis­cussed a po­ten­tial meet­ing with Putin on the side­lines of the UN Gen­eral Assem­bly in 2015, shortly af­ter Trump an­nounced his can­di­dacy for pres­i­dent.

In a foot­note, spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller’s team writes that Co­hen con­ferred with Trump “about con­tact­ing the Rus­sia gov­ern­ment be­fore reach­ing out to gauge Rus­sia’s in­ter­est in such a meet­ing,” though it never took place.

In an ad­di­tional fil­ing Fri­day evening, pros­e­cu­tors said for­mer Trump cam­paign chair Paul Manafort lied to them about his con­tacts with a Rus­sian as­so­ciate and Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials.

Manafort, who has pleaded guilty to sev­eral counts, vi­o­lated his plea agree­ment by then telling “mul­ti­ple dis­cernible lies” to pros­e­cu­tors, they said.

Pros­e­cu­tors in Co­hen’s case said that even though he co-op­er­ated in their in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the hush money pay­ments to women he nonethe­less de­served to spend time in prison.

“Co­hen did pro­vide in­for­ma­tion to law en­force­ment, in­clud­ing in­for­ma­tion that as­sisted the Spe­cial Coun­sel’s Of­fice,” they said. “But Co­hen’s de­scrip­tion of those ef­forts is over­stated in some re­spects and in­com­plete in oth­ers.”

In meet­ings with Mueller’s team, Co­hen “pro­vided in­for­ma­tion about his own con­tacts with Rus­sian in­ter­ests dur­ing the cam­paign and dis­cus­sions with oth­ers in the course of mak­ing those con­tacts,” the court doc­u­ments said.

Co­hen pro­vided pros­e­cu­tors with a “de­tailed ac­count” of his in­volve­ment, along with the in­volve­ment of oth­ers, in ef­forts dur­ing the 2016 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign to com­plete a deal to build a Trump Tower Moscow, the doc­u­ments said. He also pro­vided in­for­ma­tion about at­tempts by Rus­sian na­tion­als to reach Trump’s cam­paign, they said.

How­ever, in the crimes to which he pleaded guilty in Au­gust, he was mo­ti­vated “by per­sonal greed and re­peat­edly used his power and in­flu­ence for de­cep­tive ends.”

Pros­e­cu­tors said the court’s Pro­ba­tion Depart­ment es­ti­mated that fed­eral sen­tenc­ing guide­lines call for Co­hen to serve at least four years in prison. They said that “re­flects Co­hen’s ex­ten­sive, de­lib­er­ate and se­ri­ous crim­i­nal con­duct.”

Pros­e­cu­tors say Co­hen “al­ready en­joyed a priv­i­leged life,” and that “his de­sire for even greater wealth and in­flu­ence pre­cip­i­tated an ex­ten­sive course of crim­i­nal con­duct.”

RICHARD DREW THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Michael Co­hen, for­mer lawyer to Don­ald Trump, leaves his apart­ment build­ing in New York on Fri­day. Fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors said that Co­hen de­serves a sub­stan­tial prison sen­tence de­spite his co-op­er­a­tion.

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