Tue, 10 Dec 2019

Mueller seeks jail time for Cohen, reveals Manafort's lies

By Sheetal Sukhija, United States News.Net
08 Dec 2018, 11:42 GMT+10

WASHINGTON, U.S. - In a highly anticipated court filing made on Friday, Federal prosecutors sought a "substantial" prison term for the U.S. President Donald Trump's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen.

Prosecutors led by the Justice Department appointed Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who are investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and the alleged collusion between Russia and Trump's election campaign also revealed the progress made in the cases involving Paul Manafort. 

On Friday, prosecutors submitted separate memos to the U.S. District Judge William Pauley in Manhattan, detailing Cohen's involvement in the two major cases against him.

Cohen, who was one of his fiercest supporters, had earned the reputation of being "one of the president's most ferocious attack dogs."

However, in August this year, Cohen pleaded guilty to financial crimes in a federal court in New York.

Then, last week he pleaded guilty to lying to Congress in the Trump-Russia collusion case being led by Mueller. 

Cohen admitted to lying to Congress about efforts made during the election campaign in 2016, to get a Trump Tower built in Moscow. 

Since pleading guilty a few months back, Cohen has flipped on the President and has been cooperating with Mueller's probe.

In their filing on Friday, Federal prosecutors acknowledged that Cohen had provided useful information to investigators probing Russia's interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential elections.

However, Mueller's filing categorically pointed out that Cohen had refused to disclose everything he knew - due to which, prosecutors recommended in their court filing that the President's former lawyer should spend significant time in prison.

In the court filing, which comes just a few days before Cohen will to be sentenced in two separate cases, prosecutors asked a judge to sentence Cohen to a substantial prison term over hush payments made to an adult movie star on Trump's behalf and evading taxes.

Mueller's suggestion for a long prison time for Trump's former personal attorneys also came merely days after Cohen, who is facing a campaign finance violations case and accusations of lying to a bank, asked for a sentence of no prison time, citing his cooperation with investigators. 

'Cohen's crime was serious'

In a separate 38-page memo, Mueller suggested that while Cohen's crime was "serious," he had "taken significant steps to mitigate his criminal conduct."

Prosecutors wrote in this memo, "He chose to accept responsibility for his false statements and admit to his conduct in open court. He also has gone to significant lengths to assist the special counsel's investigation."

They pointed out that Cohen had provided "useful information concerning certain discrete Russia-related matters core to its investigation that he obtained by virtue of his regular contact" with Trump organization executives during the campaign.

Adding that Cohen also provided "relevant and useful information concerning his contacts with persons connected to the White House during the 2017–2018 time period."

The memo by prosecutors revealed that Cohen told them of a November 2015 contact from a Russian national - a piece of key information that has previously remained unknown. 

According to the memo, Cohen told investigators that the Russian national claimed to be a "trusted person" in the Russian Federation and had offered the Trump campaign "political synergy" and "synergy on a government level."

Mueller's office stated in the memo that Cohen pointed out to investigators that the Russian national repeatedly proposed a meeting between Trump and the Russian President Vladi­mir Putin - reportedly telling Trump's side that such a meeting could have a "phenomenal" impact, "not only in political but in a business dimension as well."

Trump's personal attorney told Mueller's team that he did not follow up on the invitation since he was already working on a Trump project in Moscow through a different person.

Cohen told the special counsel's team that he believed that the person he was working with had Russian government connections.

After detailing the revelations made by Cohen, prosecutors sought a three and a half year long prison time - a modest reduction from the five-year imprisonment he could face under the federal sentencing guidelines. 

Prosecutors wrote in their filing, "He seeks extraordinary leniency - a sentence of no jail time - based principally on his rose-coloured view of the seriousness of the crimes; his claims to a sympathetic personal history; and his provision of certain information to law enforcement. But the crimes committed by Cohen were more serious than his submission allows and were marked by a pattern of deception that permeated his professional life."

They added, "To be clear: Cohen does not have a cooperation agreement and is not . . . properly described as a 'cooperating witness,' as that term is commonly used in this district."

Prosecutors have also accused Cohen of holding back some of the information that he knew and said they were refusing to give the former Trump attorney a legal letter detailing his cooperation.

They pointed out in the memo, "This office understands that the information provided by Cohen to (Mueller) was ultimately credible and useful to its ongoing investigation," however adding that "Cohen repeatedly declined to provide full information about the scope of any additional criminal conduct in which he may have engaged or had knowledge."

How he sought to buy silence

Prosecutors have also detailed the meetings Cohen had attended, before committing the crime of paying money to buy the silence of two women who claimed that they had affairs with Trump. 

According to prosecutors, there were three people at the meeting, Cohen, Individual 1 (identified as Trump in the document) and Chairman 1 (believed to be David Pecker of the National Enquirer).

The Special Counsel's team wrote in the memo, "In August 2014, Chairman-1 had met with Cohen and Individual-1, and had offered to help deal with negative stories about Individual-1's relationships with women by identifying such stories so that they could be purchased and 'killed.'"

In their memos filed on Friday, prosecutors also highlighted that Cohen had provided minimal information.

They wrote that Cohen's cooperation "warrants little to no consideration as a mitigating factor" because Cohen told them nothing of value.

Mueller's team pointed out that Cohen had admitted that Trump discussed the Moscow project "well into the campaign" and wrote in the memo that Cohen's lies to Congress "obscured the fact that the Moscow Project was a lucrative business opportunity that sought, and likely required, the assistance of the Russian government."

They added that if completed, the Trump organization could have received "hundreds of millions of dollars from Russian sources in licensing fees and other revenues."

Cohen is set to be sentenced before the U.S. District Court Judge William H. Pauley III on Wednesday.

Manafort myriad lies

Separately on Friday, Mueller revealed details of all the alleged lies that Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort told investigators during interviews with prosecutors.

According to Mueller's team, Manafort lied about his interactions with a political consultant who had ties to Russian intelligence.

He is also said to have lied about interactions with Trump administration officials even after Manafort was indicted in late 2017.

In his filing on Friday, Mueller said, "In his interviews with the Special Counsel's Office and the FBI, Manafort told multiple discernible lies - these were not instances of mere memory lapses."

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