Prosecutors recommend ‘substantial’ prison time for ex-Trump lawyer Cohen

Federal prosecutors in New York on Friday recommended that Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former personal attorney, receive “substantial” prison time for several federal crimes, despite his cooperation with ongoing law enforcement investigations, including special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.

In a filing late Friday afternoon, prosecutors with the U.S. attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York recognized Cohen’s cooperation with law enforcement in “ongoing matters” but argued the seriousness of his crimes warrant a “substantial term of imprisonment.”

{mosads}The filing also cites Cohen’s decision not to become a traditional cooperating witness with federal authorities in New York, despite offering assistance in numerous ongoing investigations.

Federal sentencing guidelines call for Cohen to serve between 51 months to 63 months in prison for a series of crimes he pleaded guilty to in August. He also pleaded guilty to a separate offense last week in connection with his decision to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation.

Prosecutors made clear on Friday that neither they nor Mueller’s office would file what is called a 5K motion, in which prosecutors request a sentence below the guidelines because a defendant provides “substantial assistance” to the government.  

“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,” federal prosecutors wrote in the filing.

“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,” they wrote.

In a separate filing Friday, Mueller described Cohen as having gone to “significant lengths” to assist the Russia investigation, including meeting with attorneys from the special counsel’s office on seven occasions and voluntarily providing information on a range of topics.

Mueller asked that Cohen be able to serve any sentence imposed for making false statements to Congress concurrently with that imposed for the other federal charges.

Cohen will be sentenced in New York on Dec. 12.

The filings come roughly a week after Cohen agreed to cooperate in Mueller’s sprawling probe, turning a one-time Trump loyalist and confidant into a witness in an investigation exploring links between the Trump campaign and Russia and whether the president obstructed justice.

Cohen will be sentenced for a slew of federal charges, including eight he pleaded guilty to in a deal with prosecutors in New York in August and the separate charge of lying to Congress. In a surprise development last week, Cohen admitted to making false statements to congressional panels investigating Russian interference and agreed to cooperate in Mueller’s investigation.

Cohen has already reportedly sat for interviews with the special counsel’s office totaling 70 hours. Last week, his defense attorneys argued in a court filing that he should face no prison time, citing his cooperation with Mueller and other officials pursuing investigations in New York.

But federal prosecutors in New York firmly pushed back on that request Friday.

“Cohen, an attorney and businessman, committed four distinct federal crimes over a period of several years. He was motivated to do so by personal greed, and repeatedly used his power and influence for deceptive ends,” they wrote. “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.”

The breakdown in the relationship between Trump and his former lawyer and ally has unfolded dramatically in recent months, culminating in Cohen’s decision to implicate Trump in a hush-money scheme when pleading guilty to the first slew of charges in August before cooperating with Mueller.

On Monday, Trump said Cohen should serve a full prison term, casting him as a liar who peddled false stories to obtain a more lenient sentence. 

Updated: 5:43 p.m.

Tags Donald Trump Robert Mueller
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