COHEN DETAILS REVEALED – Mueller Investigation
Michael Cohen’s help is detailed in the memo from Robert Mueller, who is heading the probe into alleged Russian collusion with the Trump team.
The memo is mainly to guide sentencing for crimes Cohen has admitted.
A second Mueller memo sets out the case against ex-campaign chief Paul Manafort for breaching a plea bargain deal.
Cohen and Manafort are among a number of Trump aides being investigated in Special Counsel Mueller’s probe.
Both have been co-operating with his team but Mr Mueller now accuses Manafort of lying.
While Mr Mueller said in a sentencing document that Cohen had gone to “significant lengths” to assist his probe, prosecutors in the southern district of New York said Cohen had not entered into a cooperation agreement with their office and that his sentence should reflect a “modest” reduction from the roughly four to five years they said federal guidelines would suggest.
Cohen did provide information to law enforcement, including information that assisted the special counsel’s office (SCO) in ongoing matters, as described in the SCO’s memorandum to the court, and the office agrees that this is a factor to be considered by the court,” wrote prosecutors in New York.
“But Cohen’s description of those efforts is overstated in some respects and incomplete in others. To be clear: Cohen does not have a cooperation agreement…and therefore is not properly described as a “cooperating witness,” as that term is commonly used in this district.”
It added: “While the office agrees that Cohen should receive credit for his assistance in the SCO investigation, that credit should not approximate the credit a traditional cooperating witness would receive, given, among other reasons, Cohen’s affirmative decision not to become one. For these reasons, the Office respectfully requests that this court impose a substantial term of imprisonment.”
This summer, Mr Cohen pleaded guilty to charges of tax evasion, bank fraud, and campaign finance violations in a case brought by the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. Those campaign finance charges were about hush money payments Mr Cohen arranged in 2016 for women who alleged sexual encounters with Mr Trump, among them Ms Daniels.
Cohen pleaded guilty last week to a separate charge by brought by Mr Mueller’s office that he lied to Congress about discussions over the construction of a proposed Trump Organisation skyscraper in Moscow – referred to in court documents as the “Moscow Project”.
What’s in the Memo?
In a separate filing on Friday, Mueller’s office said Cohen should serve any sentence imposed for that crime concurrently with the sentence imposed for the New York charges, saying he had gone to “significant lengths to assist the special counsel’s investigation”.
Indeed, Mr Mueller said Cohen, who is scheduled to be sentenced next Wednesday by US District Judge William Pauley in Manhattan had provided considerable insight into the Trump campaign’s working.
“The defendant’s lies to Congress were deliberate and premeditated. His false statements did not spring spontaneously from a line of examination or heated colloquy during a congressional hearing. They started in a written submission that he chose to provide to both houses of Congress ahead of his appearances,” writes Mr Mueller.
The memo says Cohen has taken “significant steps to mitigate his criminal conduct”.
The key elements of the memo are about the Russian links. They are that Cohen:
- “Provided information about his own contacts with Russian interests during the campaign and discussions with others in the course of making those contacts”
- “Also provided information about attempts by other Russian nationals to reach the campaign”
- Spoke to “a Russian national who claimed to be a ‘trusted person’ in the Russian Federation who could offer the campaign ‘political synergy’ and ‘synergy on a government level'”. This person proposed a meeting between Individual 1 (previously identified by Cohen as Mr Trump) and the Russian president, saying it could have a “phenomenal” impact “not only in political but in a business dimension as well”. The meeting did not take place
- Provided “relevant and useful information concerning his contacts with persons connected to the White House during the 2017-2018 time period
The New York prosecutors’ submission said Cohen had committed four federal crimes over several years.
“He was motivated to do so by personal greed, and repeatedly used his power and influence for deceptive ends,” the filing said.
One of the crimes Cohen admitted was paying hush money to two women who alleged they had affairs with Mr Trump. This could amount to a violation of US campaign finance laws.
While the prosecutors accepted Cohen’s help with the Mueller investigation should be taken into account in sentencing, they said it should only bring a “modest” reduction on the guidelines of four to five years.
What Does This Mean?
In a one-two punch of court filings, the memos say that Cohen should get credit for providing useful information to investigators. But not too much credit.
Some of the information in the special counsel’s document is already known. The negotiations for a Trump Tower in Moscow, which lasted well into the 2016 presidential campaign, were once again outlined.
But the document drives home the point that Donald Trump was kept informed about the possible deal, which could have netted “hundreds of millions of dollars” and that the negotiations took place “at a time of sustained efforts by the Russian government to interfere with the US election”.
Other details Cohen supplied are largely left to the imagination.
The president is also once again implicated in the campaign finance charges against Cohen. The New York prosecutors state that Mr Trump’s lawyer acted to silence two women who claim they had affairs with Mr Trump in order to “influence the 2016 presidential election”. What’s more, Cohen “acted in co-ordination with and at the direction of Individual 1”.
What all this means is that prosecutors in New York and Washington are claiming the president had implicit knowledge and involvement in a campaign finance crime. He also had knowledge of a massive property deal that involved contacts with Russian government officials while he was running for president in an election that was being targeted for influence by the Russian government.
The picture they paint is a dark one.
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