World News U.S. pros­e­cu­tors name Trump in hush pay­ments, de­tail Rus­sian con­tacts

Stabroek News - - WORLD NEWS -

WASH­ING­TON/NEW YORK, (Reuters) - U.S. pros­e­cu­tors said yesterday Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump di­rected his per­sonal lawyer to make il­le­gal hush pay­ments to two women ahead of the 2016 elec­tion, and also de­tailed a pre­vi­ously un­known at­tempt by a Rus­sian to help the Trump cam­paign.

In court fil­ings, fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors in New York and those work­ing for Spe­cial Coun­sel Robert Mueller made the case for why Trump’s for­mer per­sonal lawyer, Michael Co­hen, and his for­mer cam­paign chair­man, Paul Manafort, de­served prison time.

The doc­u­ments turned up the heat on Trump by con­firm­ing pros­e­cu­tors’ be­lief of his in­volve­ment in a cam­paign fi­nance vi­o­la­tion, while adding to a grow­ing list of con­tacts be­tween cam­paign aides and Rus­sians in 2015 and 2016, le­gal ex­perts said.

“In to­tal, the pros­e­cu­tors seem to be say­ing the pres­i­dent was more aware than he has claimed to be,” for­mer fed­eral prose­cu­tor Michael Zeldin said.

Pros­e­cu­tors in both of the Co­hen cases were re­quired to sub­mit sep­a­rate memos yesterday on his co­op­er­a­tion to U.S. Dis­trict Judge Wil­liam Pauley in Man­hat­tan, who will de­cide on the for­mer lawyer’s sen­tence on Dec. 12.

While Co­hen im­pli­cated the pres­i­dent in the hush pay­ments to two women — adult film ac­tress Stormy Daniels and for­mer Play­boy model Karen McDougal — in his guilty plea in Au­gust in New York, the fil­ing on Fri­day marked the first time fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors of­fi­cially con­curred.

It said Co­hen made the pay­ments in “co­or­di­na­tion with and the di­rec­tion of” Trump.

Democrats jumped on that as­ser­tion and called for steps to pro­tect Mueller’s probe into pos­si­ble col­lu­sion be­tween Rus­sia and Trump’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.

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

The pres­i­dent has de­nied any col­lu­sion with Rus­sia, and ac­cuses Mueller’s pros­e­cu­tors of pres­sur­ing his for­mer aides to lie about him, his cam­paign and his busi­ness deal­ings. Rus­sia has de­nied in­ter­fer­ing in the elec­tion to help Trump.

In new tweets yesterday, Trump ac­cused fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tors and se­nior of­fi­cials of hav­ing con­flicts of in­ter­est, with­out of­fer­ing ev­i­dence. White House spokes­woman Sarah San­ders called Co­hen a liar and dis­missed the fil­ings as in­signif­i­cant.

“The gov­ern­ment’s fil­ings in Mr. Co­hen’s case tell us noth­ing of value that wasn’t al­ready known,” San­ders said. RUS­SIAN CON­TACTS Last week, Co­hen ad­mit­ted to ly­ing to con­gres­sional in­ves­ti­ga­tors in an at­tempt to min­i­mize his ef­forts to se­cure the Krem­lin’s help for a Trump sky­scraper in Moscow. He has said he did so to stay in sync with Trump’s po­lit­i­cal mes­sag­ing, and that he con­sulted with the White House while pre­par­ing to tes­tify to Congress.

Mueller said on Fri­day that Co­hen re­peated his false state­ments about the pro­ject in his first meet­ing with Mueller’s of­fice, ad­mit­ting the truth only in a later meet­ing in Septem­ber af­ter he had pleaded guilty to the sep­a­rate New York charges.

Yesterday, Mueller said Co­hen’s false state­ments to Congress had “ob­scured the fact” that the sky­scraper pro­ject held the po­ten­tial to reap “hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars from Rus­sian sources” for the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Mueller said that dis­cus­sions about the po­ten­tial Moscow de­vel­op­ment were rel­e­vant to the in­ves­ti­ga­tion be­cause they oc­curred “at a time of sus­tained ef­forts by the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment to in­ter­fere with the U.S. pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.”

In ad­di­tion to com­ing clean on the Moscow pro­ject, Co­hen pro­vided in­for­ma­tion to Mueller about sev­eral at­tempts by Rus­sians to con­tact the Trump’s cam­paign, ac­cord­ing to Fri­day’s fil­ing.

In Novem­ber 2015, Co­hen spoke with a Rus­sian na­tional who said he could of­fer the cam­paign “po­lit­i­cal syn­ergy” with Rus­sia and re­peat­edly pro­posed a meet­ing with Putin. Co­hen did not fol­low up on the of­fer, the fil­ing says. Mueller also said in the fil­ing that Co­hen had pro­vided “rel­e­vant and use­ful in­for­ma­tion con­cern­ing his con­tacts with per­sons con­nected to the White House” in 2017 and 2018.

Mueller also de­tailed al­leged lies told by Manafort dur­ing in­ter­views with pros­e­cu­tors and the FBI. Last month Mueller voided Manafort’s plea agree­ment be­cause, they said, he was not telling the truth.

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

PUSH­ING FOR TIME The fil­ings fol­lowed a sen­tenc­ing memo ear­lier this week re­gard­ing Trump’s for­mer na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser, Michael Flynn, who Mueller praised for pro­vid­ing “sub­stan­tial” co­op­er­a­tion and ar­gued for no prison time.

Co­hen had been hop­ing pros­e­cu­tors would make a sim­i­lar rec­om­men­da­tion in his case. But the New York pros­e­cu­tors were un­spar­ing in their de­scrip­tions of his con­duct, say­ing he was mo­ti­vated by “per­sonal greed” and that he “re­peat­edly used his power and in­flu­ence for de­cep­tive ends.”

They said Co­hen should re­ceive some credit for co­op­er­at­ing with Mueller but noted he had not en­tered into a sim­i­lar 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.

Mueller, for his part, praised Co­hen for vol­un­tar­ily pro­vid­ing in­for­ma­tion about his own and oth­ers’ con­duct on “core top­ics un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion” and de­scribed the in­for­ma­tion as “cred­i­ble and consistent with other ev­i­dence” they had ob­tained.

Con­sid­er­ing that co­op­er­a­tion, Mueller sug­gested the sen­tence for ly­ing to Congress run con­cur­rently with the sen­tence in the New York case. SAN FRAN­CISCO, (Reuters) - A U.S. ap­peals court handed Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump a de­feat yesterday when it re­fused to al­low his or­der bar­ring asy­lum for im­mi­grants who en­ter the coun­try il­le­gally to take ef­fect, while a court chal­lenge pro­ceeds.

The 9th U.S. Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals rul­ing was writ­ten by Judge Jay By­bee, an ap­pointee of Repub­li­can pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush.

Michael Co­hen

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