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7 Dec, 2018 22:03

Prosecutors request 'substantial term of imprisonment' for ex-Trump lawyer Cohen

Prosecutors request 'substantial term of imprisonment' for ex-Trump lawyer Cohen

Trump lawyer turned federal informant Michael Cohen may be going to jail for a long time. New York prosecutors and “Russiagate” special counsel Robert Mueller both released their separate sentencing recommendations on Friday.

New York prosecutors have requested that Michael Cohen receive a “substantial term of imprisonment” for tax evasion and paying hush money to a porn star on Trump’s behalf. Cohen, who pled guilty to the charges in August, has been cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s “Russiagate” probe for several months.

In a separate sentencing memo, Mueller sought no additional jail time for charges that Cohen lied to Congress regarding the proposed construction of a Trump Organization skyscraper in Moscow, instead recommending any sentence be served concurrently with that imposed in the New York case. Cohen pled guilty to those charges last week.

In a paragraph framed in some mainstream reporting as an 'a-ha!' moment for the "Russiagate" investigation, Mueller's memo says Cohen described vague “attempts by other Russian nationals” to reach the Trump campaign. In November 2015, "a Russian national who claimed to be a 'trusted person' in the Russian Federation" said he could offer the campaign “political synergy” and “synergy on a government level.” According to Cohen, this person – who is not named – proposed a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which could have a “phenomenal” impact “not only in political but in a business dimension as well.” Cohen, however, did not follow up on the invitation.

No other details are provided, so it is difficult to gauge whether the eventual non-contact had any relation to Trump’s presidential campaign or the Trump Organization’s proposal to build a Trump Tower in Russia, aka the “Moscow Project.”

While the prosecution acknowledges Cohen’s willingness to assist the Mueller investigation as a mitigating factor, they point out that he did not actually sign a cooperation agreement with the special counsel and thus cannot be considered a “cooperating witness” under the law. The defense’s own sentencing memo, submitted last month, requested no jail sentence for conduct that typically warrants 51 to 63 months’ imprisonment under US sentencing guidelines.

The Mueller memo praises Cohen’s cooperation over seven “lengthy” interviews, as well as his efforts to “accept responsibility for his actions,” but stops short of recommending leniency, stating that “the sentence imposed should reflect the fact that lying to federal investigators has real consequences.”

The NY prosecutor's sentencing memo pulls no punches, describing Cohen’s behavior as a “pattern of deception that permeated his personal life (and was evidently hidden from friends and family members who wrote on his behalf).” Cohen, prosecutors say, made millions of dollars running a consulting firm purporting to offer a direct line to President Trump, but “his promises of insight and access proved essentially hollow.”

Also on rt.com Mueller recommends no jail time for ex-Trump adviser Flynn over 'Russiagate' cooperation

The FBI raided Cohen’s office in April, seizing boxes of evidence including secret recordings of his conversations with Trump regarding a payoff to a former Playboy model. In July, he announced he planned to cooperate with the investigation of his former boss, and he has since distanced himself from the administration, even going so far as to change his political registration to Democrat.

President Trump has called for a “full and completesentence for his former confidant, claiming the lawyer is lying to Mueller’s office in order to keep himself and his family out of prison. Cohen, who said just last year that he would “take a bullet for the president,” was quick to turn on his boss under pressure, claiming that Trump encouraged him to pay $130,000 hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels, violating campaign finance law.