Pros­e­cu­tors rec­om­mend sub­stan­tial prison term for Co­hen

Memo out­lines Rus­sia con­tacts, pay­ments to women

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - - Front Page - By Chad Day, Eric Tucker and Jim Mus­tian

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, the fed­eral spe­cial coun­sel said Fri­day in a court fil­ing.

Fil­ings by pros­e­cu­tors from both New York and the Trump-Rus­sia spe­cial coun­sel’s of­fice laid out for the first time de­tails of the co­op­er­a­tion of Co­hen, a vi­tal wit­ness who once said he’d “take a bul­let” for the pres­i­dent but who in re­cent months has be­come a prime an­tag­o­nist and pledged to come clean with the gov­ern­ment.

Fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors said Fri­day that Co­hen de­serves a sub­stan­tial prison sen­tence de­spite his co­op­er­a­tion with in­ves­ti­ga­tors. He is to be sen­tenced next week, and may face sev­eral years in prison.

In hours of meet­ings with pros­e­cu­tors, Co­hen de­tailed his in­ti­mate in­volve­ment in an ar­ray of episodes, in­clud­ing some that di­rectly touch the pres­i­dent, that are at the cen­ter of in­ves­ti­ga­tions into cam­paign fi­nance vi­o­la­tions and po­ten­tial col­lu­sion be­tween the Trump cam­paign and the Krem­lin.

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 fil­ing says the meet­ing never hap­pened.

In an ad­di­tional fil­ing Fri­day evening, pros­e­cu­tors said for­mer Trump cam­paign chair­man Paul Manafort lied to them about his con­tacts with a Rus­sian as­so­ciate

and Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials.

Manafort, who has pleaded guilty to sev­eral counts, vi­o­lated his plea agree­ment by then telling “mul­ti­ple dis­cernible lies” to pros­e­cu­tors, they said.

Co­hen also dis­cussed a Moscow real es­tate deal that could have net­ted Trump’s busi­ness hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars and con­ver­sa­tions with a Rus­sian in­ter­me­di­ary who pro­posed a meet­ing be­tween Trump and Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin as well as of­fer­ing syn­ergy with the cam­paign, pros­e­cu­tors said.

Co­hen, dubbed Trump’s “le­gal fixer” in the past, also de­scribed his work in con­junc­tion with Trump in or­ches­trat­ing hush money pay­ments to two women — a porn star and a Play­boy model — who said they had sex with Trump a decade ear­lier. Pros­e­cu­tors in New York, where Co­hen pleaded guilty in Au­gust in con­nec­tion with those pay­ments, said the lawyer “acted in co­or­di­na­tion and at the di­rec­tion” of Trump.

De­spite such spe­cific al­le­ga­tions of Trump’s ac­tions, the pres­i­dent quickly tweeted af­ter news of the fil­ings: “To­tally clears the Pres­i­dent. Thank you!”

Co­hen also told pros­e­cu­tors that 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, the fil­ings say. In a foot­note, spe­cial coun­sel Robert 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.

In an ad­di­tional fil­ing Fri­day evening, pros­e­cu­tors said Manafort lied to them about his con­tacts with a Rus­sian as­so­ciate and Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials.

Manafort, who has pleaded guilty to sev­eral counts, vi­o­lated his plea agree­ment by then telling “mul­ti­ple dis­cernible lies” to pros­e­cu­tors, they said.

Also Fri­day, for­mer FBI Di­rec­tor James Comey spoke to House in­ves­ti­ga­tors be­hind closed doors for al­most seven hours, grudg­ingly an­swer­ing ques­tions about the Jus­tice Depart­ment’s

de­ci­sions dur­ing the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

Comey, who ap­peared un­der sub­poena, an­nounced af­ter the meet­ing that he would re­turn for more ques­tion­ing Dec. 17. Ap­pear­ing an­noyed, he said “we’re talk­ing about Hil­lary Clin­ton’s emails, for heaven’s sake, so I’m not sure we needed to do this at all.”

A tran­script of the in­ter­view, ex­pected to be re­leased shortly, “will bore you,” Comey said.

Two GOP-led com­mit­tees brought Comey in as they sought to wrap up a year­long in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the depart­ment’s de­ci­sions in 2016. Repub­li­cans ar­gue that depart­ment of­fi­cials were bi­ased against Trump as they started an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into his cam­paign’s ties to Rus­sia and cleared Demo­crat Hil­lary Clin­ton in the probe into her email use. Comey was in charge of both in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

Democrats have said the in­ves­ti­ga­tions by the House Ju­di­ciary and Over­sight and Gov­ern­ment Re­form com­mit­tees are merely a way to dis­tract from and un­der­mine Mueller’s Rus­sia probe. Mueller took over the depart­ment’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion when he was ap­pointed in May 2017.

Co­hen

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