Lawyers seek prison time for Co­hen

Trump ‘di­rected’ fixer in pay­off of porn star, model

Windsor Star - - FRONT PAGE - CHAD DAY, ERIC TUCKER AND JIM MUS­TIAN

WASH­ING­TON • 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 Trump-Rus­sia 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, spe­cial coun­sel Robert 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.” Co­hen told in­ves­ti­ga­tors the per­son, who was not iden­ti­fied, said that such a meet­ing could have a “phe­nom­e­nal” im­pact, “not only in po­lit­i­cal but in a busi­ness di­men­sion as well,” the spe­cial coun­sel’s of­fice wrote. 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. 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 co­or­di­na­tion 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, 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 chair­man 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.

Manafort mis­led pros­e­cu­tors in re­cent de­brief­ings about his com­mu­ni­ca­tions and a meet­ing with Kon­stantin Kil­imnik, the as­so­ciate with ties to Rus­sian in­tel­li­gence, ac­cord­ing to Mueller’s fil­ing Fri­day.

He also lied to in­ves­ti­ga­tors when he told them that he never tried to com­mu­ni­cate a mes­sage to any­one in the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion this year, pros­e­cu­tors wrote. In fact, Manafort au­tho­rized some­one to speak to an ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial on his be­half on May 26, they wrote. Trump said last month that he hadn’t ruled out the pos­si­bil­ity of a par­don for Manafort. 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.” Per­haps most strik­ing, pros­e­cu­tors ac­cused Co­hen of hold­ing back some of what he knew.

“This of­fice un­der­stands that the in­for­ma­tion pro­vided by Co­hen to (Mueller) was ul­ti­mately cred­i­ble and use­ful to its on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” pros­e­cu­tors wrote, but said they would not give him a le­gal let­ter de­tail­ing his co­op­er­a­tion be­cause “Co­hen re­peat­edly de­clined to pro­vide full in­for­ma­tion about the scope of any ad­di­tional crim­i­nal con­duct in which he may have en­gaged or had knowl­edge.”

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.

RICHARD DREW/THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Michael Co­hen, for­mer lawyer to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, leaves his apart­ment on New York’s Park Av­enue Fri­day.

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