US: Trump lawyer met Russian offering ‘political synergy’
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 and proposed a meeting between the candidate and Russian President Vladimir Putin, the special counsel said Friday.
Court filings from prosecutors in New York and special counsel Robert Mueller’s office lay out previously undisclosed contacts between Trump associates and Russian intermediaries and suggest the Kremlin aimed early on to influence Trump and his campaign by playing to both his political aspirations and his personal business interests.
The filings, in cases involving Cohen and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, cap a dramatic week of revelations in Mueller’s ongoing investigation into potential coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.
They make clear how witnesses previously close to Trump — Cohen once declared he’d “take a bullet” for the president — have since provided damaging information about him in efforts to come clean to the government and in some cases get lighter prison sentences. One witness, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, provided so much information to prosecutors that Mueller this week said he shouldn’t serve any prison time.
The interviews with prosecutors have yielded intimate information about episodes under close examination, including possible Russian collusion and hush money payments during the campaign to a porn star and Playboy model who say they had sex with Trump a decade earlier.
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 person repeatedly dangled a meeting between Trump and Putin, saying such a meeting could have a “phenomenal” impact “not only in political but in a business dimension as well.”
Michael Cohen, former lawyer to President Donald Trump, leaves his apartment building on New York’s Park Avenue. In the latest filings Friday, prosecutors will weigh in on whether Cohen deserves prison time and, if so, how much.