For­mer Trump fixer should go to prison, pros­e­cu­tors say

The Herald Sun - - Front Page - BY BEN­JAMIN WEISER, MAG­GIE HABERMAN AND MARK MAZZETTI

Michael Co­hen, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s for­mer lawyer, should re­ceive a “sub­stan­tial” prison term of roughly four years de­spite his co­op­er­a­tion, fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors in New York said Fri­day.

Co­hen, 52, is to be sen­tenced in Man­hat­tan next week for two guilty pleas: one for cam­paign fi­nance vi­o­la­tions and fi­nan­cial crimes charged by fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors in Man­hat­tan, and the other for ly­ing to Congress in the Rus­sia in­quiry, filed by the Of­fice of the Spe­cial Coun­sel in Washington.

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.

Pros­e­cu­tors in Man­hat­tan said Co­hen’s crimes “marked a pat­tern of de­cep­tion that per­me­ated his pro­fes­sional life.”

“He was mo­ti­vated to do so by per­sonal greed, and re­peat­edly used his power and in­flu­ence for de­cep­tive ends,” the pros­e­cu­tors said in a lengthy memo to Judge Wil­liam H. Pauley III.

The spe­cial coun­sel’s of­fice re­leased its own sen­tenc­ing rec­om­men­da­tion to the judge for Co­hen’s guilty plea for mis­lead­ing Congress.

The spe­cial coun­sel said Co­hen “has gone to sig­nif­i­cant lengths to as­sist the spe­cial coun­sel’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

Co­hen has emerged as one of the big­gest threats to Trump’s pres­i­dency, pro­vid­ing the spe­cial coun­sel’s of­fice and pros­e­cu­tors in Man­hat­tan with ma­te­rial in dozens of hours of in­ter­views. Robert Mueller, the spe­cial coun­sel, has been in­ves­ti­gat­ing Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in the 2016 elec­tion and po­ten­tial ties to the Trump cam­paign.

On Tues­day, Mueller asked a judge in Washington to im­pose lit­tle or no prison time on Michael T. Flynn, Trump’s first na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser, say­ing he had pro­vided sub­stan­tial as­sis­tance to his of­fice’s Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Flynn pleaded guilty to one count of ly­ing to the FBI.

In the Man­hat­tan plea in Au­gust, Co­hen im­pli­cated Trump in hush-money pay­ments to two women – Stormy Daniels, an adult­film ac­tress whose le­gal name is Stephanie Clif­ford, and Karen McDou­gal, a for­mer Play­boy model – to con­ceal af­fairs they said they had with Trump.

On Nov. 29, Co­hen en­tered his sec­ond plea, re­veal­ing in court that Trump had been more in­volved in dis­cus­sions over a po­ten­tial deal to build a tower in Moscow than was pre­vi­ously known. He also said those dis­cus­sions had con­tin­ued until June 2016, well af­ter Trump had clinched the Repub­li­can nom­i­na­tion and only five months be­fore the elec­tion.

Trump’s in­ter­est in build­ing a Trump Tower in Moscow led Co­hen to make nu­mer­ous in­quiries with Rus­sian of­fi­cials and other Krem­lin-linked fig­ures about the fea­si­bil­ity of the project, rais­ing the pos­si­bil­ity that the ne­go­ti­a­tions might have given the Rus­sians lever­age over Trump when he was run­ning for pres­i­dent.

In Co­hen’s own sen­tenc­ing memo, his lawyers dis­closed that their client had con­sulted with White House staff members and Trump’s “le­gal coun­sel” – with­out iden­ti­fy­ing the lawyer – as he pre­pared for his false con­gres­sional tes­ti­mony.

Co­hen said in court that he lied “out of loy­alty” to Trump and to be con­sis­tent with his “political mes­sag­ing.”

MANAFORT CASE

Mueller told a judge Fri­day that Manafort, Trump’s for­mer cam­paign chair­man, told “mul­ti­ple dis­cernible lies” dur­ing in­ter­views with pros­e­cu­tors, in­clud­ing about his con­tacts with an em­ployee who is al­leged to have ties to Rus­sian in­tel­li­gence.

The al­le­ga­tions, re­ported by The Washington Post, came in a new court fil­ing by the spe­cial coun­sel that pointed to some the ques­tions pros­e­cu­tors have been ask­ing a key wit­ness in their close­ly­held in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in the 2016 cam­paign.

Mueller’s pros­e­cu­tors filed a por­tion of the doc­u­ment un­der seal and redacted other key points from view.

But they said Manafort had told nu­mer­ous lies in five ar­eas, in­clud­ing about his con­tacts with Kon­stantin Kil­imnik, a Rus­sian em­ployee of Manafort’s political con­sult­ing firm who pros­e­cu­tors have said has Rus­sian in­tel­li­gence ties. Manafort met twice dur­ing the cam­paign with Kil­imnik.

Manafort was con­victed of tax and bank fraud charges in Vir­ginia in Au­gust. He pleaded guilty in Septem­ber to ad­di­tional charges, in­clud­ing con­spir­ing to de­fraud the United States by hid­ing years of in­come and fail­ing to dis­close lob­by­ing work for a pro-Rus­sian political party and politi­cian in Ukraine.

ALSO FRI­DAY

• The Fed­eral Bu­reau of Pris­ons con­firmed that Ge­orge Pa­padopou­los, the first per­son sent to prison in the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion, was re­leased af­ter serv­ing his 14-day sen­tence.

RICHARD DREW AP

Michael Co­hen, for­mer lawyer to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, leaves his apart­ment build­ing on New York’s Park Av­enue on Fri­day. Pros­e­cu­tors say Co­hen should spend a “sub­stan­tial” amount of time in prison, de­spite his co­op­er­a­tion.

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