Prosecutors Recommend 'Substantial' Prison Time for Michael Cohen Despite His Assistance

Erika Holt
December 9, 2018

The court filings will close out a week in which Mueller's team for the first time provided some details of the help they've received from former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn. He also pleaded guilty to other crimes including making a false statement to a bank and later to lying to Congress about a Trump-branded real estate project in Moscow.

While Cohen implicated the president in the hush payments to two women - adult film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal - in his guilty plea in August in NY, the filing on Friday marked the first time federal prosecutors officially concurred.

Cohen told investigators the person, who was not identified, repeatedly proposed a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying that such a meeting could have a "phenomenal" impact, "not only in political but in a business dimension as well", the special counsel's office wrote.

The sentencing memo described information Cohen had provided since abandoning Trump and assisting with the government's investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 United States election and possible collusion with Trump's team.

In addition to coming clean on the Moscow project, Cohen provided information to Mueller about several attempts by Russians to contact the Trump's campaign, according to Friday's filing. In doing so, they'll have to provide a federal judge with at least some description of the assistance he's provided to their investigations - the Russian Federation probe and a separate investigation led by the USA attorney's office in Manhattan.

The president tweeted following the release of the sentencing memo, "Totally clears the President".

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Cohen also said he discussed the project with Trump during the presidential campaign, undercutting the then-Republican presidential candidate's statements that he didn't have any deals in Russian Federation. Cohen did not follow up on the offer, the filing says.

In an additional filing Friday evening, prosecutors said Manafort lied about his contacts with a Russian associate and Trump administration officials, including in 2018.

Prosecutors on Friday unveiled their recommendation as to what sentence former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen should get since he's been cooperating.

The meeting did not take place.

The crafting of that narrative was a "deliberate effort to use his lies as a way to set the tone and shape the course of the hearings in an effort to stymie the inquiries", the special counsel's office said. Though he has portrayed himself as cooperative, "his description of those efforts is overstated in some respects and incomplete in others", prosecutors said. Mueller's office gave him some credit for his assistance, saying that while his crime was "serious", he had "taken significant steps to mitigate his criminal conduct". But the NY prosecutors were unsparing in their descriptions of his conduct, saying he was motivated by "personal greed" and that he "repeatedly used his power and influence for deceptive ends".

This filing does not constitute a charge against the president, but it implies that prosecutors have the evidence in hand beyond Cohen's admissions to make such a frank statement.

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