Lawyers: Cohen should not have to go to prison
Lawyers for President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, say he should be spared prison for crimes he committed in an abundance of enthusiasm for his ex-boss, and they portrayed him to a judge as a hero for cooperating in a probe Trump has “regularly questioned publicly and stridently.”
The lawyers said in court papers filed in New York late Friday that Cohen, 52, has cooperated extensively with special counsel Robert Mueller and New York state investigators who brought a civil lawsuit against the Trump Organization and individuals, including Trump.
They cited the fact he met with Mueller’s team in “seven voluntary interview meetings” that began even before he pleaded guilty on Aug. 21 to campaign finance and bank frauds, among other charges, and continued through late November.
He pleaded guilty Thursday to lying to Congress, a charge that his lawyers said resulted in part from information he voluntarily provided Mueller’s team in meetings governed by a limited-use immunity agreement.
“Michael’s decision to cooperate and take full responsibility for his own conduct well reflects his personal resolve, notwithstanding past errors, to re-point his internal compass true north toward a productive, ethical and thoroughly law abiding life,” his lawyers wrote.
They say he’ll continue to cooperate, though he wants to be sentenced as scheduled on Dec. 12 so he can return to providing for his family.
Besides his cooperation with Mueller, Cohen has also provided the New York state attorney general’s office with documents “concerning a separate open inquiry,” the lawyers wrote. They said he also has provided information to the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance.
Cohen’s lawyers sought to address speculation over why their client has not entered into a formal cooperation agreement with prosecutors, saying he was concerned that such a deal would delay his sentencing.
“This personal decision does not signal any intention on Michael’s part to withhold information or his availability to respond to additional inquiry. To the contrary, he expects to cooperate further,” the lawyers wrote. “But, following the execution of search warrants in this case, nearly every professional and commercial relationship that he enjoyed, and a number of long-standing friendships, have vanished.”
The lawyers portrayed Cohen as courageous for cooperating in Mueller’s probe while the “investigation – and the rationale for its very existence – is regularly questioned publicly and stridently by the President of the United States.”
“In the context of this raw, full-bore attack by the most powerful person in the United States, Michael, formerly a confidante and adviser to Mr. Trump, resolved to cooperate, and voluntarily took the first steps toward doing so even before he was charged,” the lawyers wrote. “He took these steps, moreover, despite regular public reports referring to the President’s consideration of pardons and pre-pardons in the SCO’s investigation.”
Michael Cohen walks out of federal court in New York on Thursday after he pleaded guilty to lying to Congress. Cohen has since cooperated in the Robert Mueller probe.