Trump’s fixer should go to prison, prose­cu­tors say

The Kansas City Star - - Front Page - BY BEN­JAMIN WEISER, MAG­GIE HABER­MAN AND MARK MAZZETTI New York Times

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 sep­a­rate 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 the crimes Co­hen had com­mit­ted “marked a pat­tern of de­cep­tion that per­me­ated his pro­fes­sional life,” and though he was seek­ing a re­duced sen­tence for pro­vid­ing as­sis­tance to the gov­ern­ment, he did not de­serve much le­niency.

“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.

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

The spe­cial coun­sel seemed to of­fer a more pos­i­tive view of Co­hen’s co­op­er­a­tion with the

Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion, say­ing he “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 faces up to six months in prison un­der fed­eral guide­lines after plead­ing 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 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 that Manafort had told nu­mer­ous lies in five dif­fer­ent 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. The for­mer Trump cam­paign for­eign pol­icy ad­viser pleaded guilty last year to ly­ing to the FBI about his con­tacts with Rus­sian in­ter­me­di­aries. Those con­tacts dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign prompted the FBI in July 2016 to open a coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence in­ves­ti­ga­tion. That in­ves­ti­ga­tion was later taken over by Mueller.

Paul Manafort

Michael Co­hen

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