For­mer top Trump lawyer seeks le­niency from judge

San Francisco Chronicle (Sunday) - - NATION - By Ben­jamim Weiser and Mag­gie Haber­man Ben­jamim Weiser and Mag­gie Haber­man are New York Times writ­ers.

NEW YORK — Michael Co­hen, Pres­i­dent Trump’s for­mer per­sonal lawyer who has twice pleaded guilty to crimes that have im­pli­cated Trump in il­le­gal or ques­tion­able con­duct, asked a fed­eral judge that he be al­lowed to avoid prison when he is sen­tenced in less than two weeks.

In a deeply per­sonal me­moran­dum that ex­pressed Co­hen’s con­tri­tion and shame and por­trayed him as a man whose per­sonal and pro­fes­sional lives had been shat­tered, his lawyers cited his co­op­er­a­tion with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the spe­cial coun­sel, Robert Mueller, whose le­git­i­macy is reg­u­larly de­nounced by the pres­i­dent.

“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 in court pa­pers filed late Fri­day.

Ar­gu­ing that Co­hen could have fought the gov­ern­ment, “po­si­tion­ing him­self per­haps for a par­don or clemency,” the lawyers said he in­stead took per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity for his wrong­do­ing “and is pre­pared to con­tinue to con­trib­ute to an in­ves­ti­ga­tion that he views as thor­oughly le­git­i­mate and vi­tal.”

The lawyers, Guy Petrillo and Amy Lester, sub­mit­ted their memo one day af­ter Co­hen en­tered a sur­prise guilty plea in fed­eral court in Man­hat­tan to a charge of ly­ing to Con­gress in a case filed by Mueller, in­ves­ti­gat­ing Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in the 2016 elec­tion and po­ten­tial ties to Trump’s cam­paign. In Au­gust, Co­hen pleaded guilty to cam­paign fi­nance vi­o­la­tions and fi­nan­cial crimes in a case brought by the U.S. at­tor­ney in Man­hat­tan. In that plea, Co­hen im­pli­cated Trump in hush-money pay­ments to two women dur­ing the 2016 cam­paign to con­ceal af­fairs they said they had with Trump.

Co­hen, 52, is to be sen­tenced by Judge Wil­liam Pauley on Dec. 12 on the charges in both cases. The gov­ern­ment is also ex­pected to file a sen­tenc­ing memo.

The Co­hen memo of­fered no new rev­e­la­tions about al­leged mis­con­duct in­volv­ing the pres­i­dent, but it shed new light on Co­hen’s role in the var­i­ous in­ves­ti­ga­tions be­ing con­ducted into Trump and his in­ner cir­cle.

He has met seven times with Mueller’s pros­e­cu­tors — the first time on Aug. 7, two weeks be­fore Co­hen en­tered his first guilty plea — and he in­tends to keep mak­ing him­self avail­able when needed for ad­di­tional ques­tion­ing, the memo said.

The memo noted that Mueller’s of­fice is ex­pected to pro­vide the judge with an as­sess­ment of Co­hen’s co­op­er­a­tion, and that fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors in Man­hat­tan are to join in pre­sent­ing Co­hen’s as­sis­tance as a fac­tor for the judge to con­sider.

Julie Ja­cob­son / As­so­ci­ated Press

Michael Co­hen is ask­ing a fed­eral judge that he be al­lowed to avoid prison when he is sen­tenced in less than two weeks.

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