US prose­cu­tors name Trump in hush pay­ments


US prose­cu­tors said on Fri­day 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 on Fri­day on his co­op­er­a­tion to US District Judge Wil­liam Pauley in Man­hat­tan, who will de­cide on the for­mer lawyer’s sen­tence on 12 De­cem­ber. 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.

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