Federal prosecutors are recommending that former Donald Trump lawyer Michael Cohen serve a "substantial" prison sentence (around four years) for his eight tax fraud and campaign violation crimes, according to a memo released today.
Cohen also told prosecutors that he and Trump discussed a potential meeting with Putin on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in 2015, shortly after Trump announced his candidacy for president, the filings say. In recent weeks, he pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about efforts during the 2016 presidential campaign to get a Trump-branded tower built 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. Nonetheless, neither Special Counsel Robert Mueller nor USA attorneys have signaled in any way whether charges might be brought against Trump.
Filings by prosecutors from both NY and the Trump-Russia special counsel's office laid out for the first time details of the cooperation of Cohen, a vital witness who once said he'd "take a bullet" for the president but who in recent months has become a prime antagonist and pledged to come clean with the government.
He spoke with Ali Velshi about the big takeaways from the new Robert Mueller filings on Michael Cohen and Paul Manaofrt.
Mueller's office has been tasked with investigating whether anyone in Trump's campaign conspired with the Russians who were waging those "active measures" against the United States and the West.
Cohen pleaded guilty in August to violating campaign finance law when he arranged payments to an adult-film star during the 2016 election.
"Totally clears the president".
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Court filings from prosecutors in NY and special counsel Robert Mueller's office Friday laid out previously undisclosed contacts between Trump associates and Russian intermediaries and suggested the Kremlin aimed early on to influence Trump and his campaign by playing to both his political aspirations and his personal business interests.
Democrats jumped on that assertion and called for steps to protect Mueller's probe into possible collusion between Russian Federation and Trump's presidential campaign.
The filing says the meeting never happened.
"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", the document reads, referring to Trump.
They said Cohen should receive some credit for cooperating with Mueller but noted he had not entered into a similar agreement with their office.
Cohen wanted to obscure from Congress and the public that if the project had been completed, Trump's company "could have received hundreds of millions of dollars from Russian sources in licensing fees and other revenues", prosecutors wrote.
"While Cohen - as his own submission makes clear - already enjoyed a privileged life, his desire for even greater wealth and influence precipitated an extensive course of criminal conduct", they said.
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