Fil­ing says Pres­i­dent Trump di­rected il­le­gal pay­ments

Las Vegas Review-Journal - - FROM THE COVER -

WASH­ING­TON — The Jus­tice De­part­ment said Fri­day that Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump di­rected il­le­gal pay­ments to buy the si­lence of two women whose claims of ex­tra­mar­i­tal af­fairs threat­ened his pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.

In a court fil­ing, pros­e­cu­tors said for­mer Trump lawyer Michael Co­hen ar­ranged the se­cret pay­ments at the height of the 2016 cam­paign “in co­or­di­na­tion with and at the di­rec­tion of ” Trump.

Co­hen has pre­vi­ously said Trump was in­volved in the hush-money scheme, but court doc­u­ments filed ahead of Co­hen’s sen­tenc­ing made clear pros­e­cu­tors be­lieve Co­hen’s claim.

The fil­ing stopped short of ac­cus­ing the pres­i­dent of com­mit­ting a crime. Whether a pres­i­dent can be pros­e­cuted while in of­fice re­mains a mat­ter of le­gal dis­pute.

In ad­di­tion, the fil­ings re­veal that Co­hen told pros­e­cu­tors he and Trump dis­cussed a po­ten­tial meet­ing with Putin on the side­lines of the U.N. 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.

Pros­e­cu­tors in Co­hen’s case said that even though he co­op­er­ated 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.”

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. He also pro­vided in­for­ma­tion about at­tempts by Rus­sian na­tion­als to reach Trump’s cam­paign, they said.

How­ever, in the crimes to which he pleaded guilty in Au­gust, he was mo­ti­vated “by per­sonal greed and re­peat­edly used his power and in­flu­ence for de­cep­tive ends.”

Pros­e­cu­tors said the court’s Pro­ba­tion De­part­ment es­ti­mated that fed­eral sen­tenc­ing guide­lines call for Co­hen to serve at least four years in prison. They said that “re­flects Co­hen’s ex­ten­sive, de­lib­er­ate and se­ri­ous crim­i­nal con­duct.”

Pros­e­cu­tors say Co­hen “al­ready en­joyed a priv­i­leged life,” and that “his de­sire for even greater wealth and in­flu­ence pre­cip­i­tated an ex­ten­sive course of crim­i­nal con­duct.”

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