Federal prosecutors have recommended that President Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen receive a substantial prison sentence for his crimes. The revelation was made in court documents known as sentencing guidelines, in which prosecutors recommend to a federal judge how a defendant should be sentenced.
“While the Office agrees that Cohen should receive credit for his assistance in the [Special Council Office’s] 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, one that reflects a modest downward variance from the applicable Guidelines range.”
The U.S. sentencing guidelines for Cohen’s various crimes is 51 to 63 months in prison.
The sentencing recommendations were made by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York. Cohen is facing several charges in New York, including tax evasion, making false statements to financial institutions, making illegal campaign contributions and making false statements to Congress.
Cohen has sat for interviews with the special counsel’s office but has not become a cooperating witness. Mueller’s team has confirmed that Cohen sat for seven sessions with them, many of which were “lengthy,” they said.
Much of the usefulness Cohen has provided to the special counsel’s office centers on information Cohen has provided on contacts with what the SCO calls, “Russian interests.”
For example, investigators say, Cohen received contact information for a Russian source who offered to help Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. This person, a Russian national, “claimed to be a ‘trusted person’ in the Russian Federation who could offer the campaign ‘political synergy’ and ‘synergy on a government level,’” investigators say.
Investigators say this Russian national repeatedly proposed a meeting between then-candidate Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, attempting to entice Cohen by saying such a meeting would have a “phenomenal impact” not only on politics, but on business.
Investigators say the source was referring to the proposed Trump Tower Moscow project. Cohen did not follow up on the invitations, not because he felt it was inappropriate, investigators say, but rather because he was already working on the Trump Tower project in Moscow with another source in Russia.
It has been revealed that negotiations over Trump Tower Moscow extended well into the 2016 presidential campaign. President Trump has long maintained not having any business interests, either existing or potential, in Russia.
Prosecutors from the Southern District of New York were much tougher on Cohen than the Special Counsel’s office however, detailing years of criminal activity. They recommended he be denied leniency from the Court.
“[Cohen] was motivated to [commit crimes] by personal greed, and repeatedly used his power and influence for deceptive ends. Now he seeks extraordinary leniency – a sentence of no jail time – based principally on his rose-colored 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 wrote.
Prosecutors clarified that Cohen chose not to become a cooperating witness in their investigations.
“Cohen did provide information to law enforcement, including information that assisted the
Special Counsel’s Office in ongoing matters…and the Office agrees that this is a factor to be considered by the Court… 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 is therefore is not properly described as a ‘cooperating witness,’ as that term is commonly used in this District,” they wrote.
Potentially most damaging to the White House though, are revelations Cohen broke campaign finance laws by paying two women to remain silent about affairs they had with Donald Trump, in order to keep Trump from suffering any political damage during the presidential election. Cohen claims he was instructed make the payments by Trump himself.
“During the campaign, Cohen played a central role in two similar schemes to purchase the
rights to stories – each from women who claimed to have had an affair with Individual-1 – so as
to suppress the stories and thereby prevent them from influencing the election,” prosecutors wrote.
“With respect to both payments, Cohen acted with the intent to influence the 2016 presidential election. Cohen coordinated his actions with one or more members of the campaign, including through meetings and phone calls, about the fact, nature, and timing of the payments. In particular, and as Cohen himself has now admitted, with respect to both payments, he acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1.”
“Individual-1” refers to Donald Trump.
The Southern District dismissed Cohen’s cooperation with its office. It provided little value to their investigation and consisted of information they say was forthcoming.
“Cohen’s provision of information to the Office of the New York Attorney General warrants little to no consideration as a mitigating factor,” New York prosecutors wrote. “This Office’s understanding is that the information Cohen provided was useful only to the extent that he corroborated information already known to the NY AG.”
“More importantly, Cohen provided information to the NY AG not as a cooperating witness who was exposing himself to potential criminal or civil liability but instead as a witness who could have been compelled to provide that testimony.”
It had up until now had been believed that Cohen was cooperating fully with all investigators. Mueller’s investigation seems to be zeroing in on members of President Trump’s inner circle.
Cohen is set to sentenced on December 12.
Photo by Ken Lund via Flickr