Federal prosecutors in New York want ‘substantial’ prison term for Michael Cohen
Federal prosecutors in New York have filed their sentencing memo for President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen.
Here are the key takeaways from the filing:
- The Southern District of New York cited sentencing guidelines of 51 to 63 months in prison when referring to the sentence.
- Those prosecutors also requested that a federal judge impose a $500,000 forfeiture, and an additional fine, on Cohen.
- Prosecutors asked for a “substantial term of imprisonment” for Cohen, whom they slammed for committing crimes intended to affect the 2016 presidential election: “Cohen sought to influence the election from the shadows … [he] clouded a process that Congress has painstakingly sought to keep transparent. The sentence imposed should reflect the seriousness of Cohen’s brazen violations of the election laws and attempt to counter the public cynicism that may arise when individuals like Cohen act as if the political process belongs to the rich and powerful.”
- But they noted in the memo that their recommendation be modestly lower than the suggested range of prison time suggested in federal guidelines.
- In its two meetings with Cohen, the prosecutors said he was “forthright and credible” — but added that he had decided “not to pursue full cooperation” with their office. Any future contributions to the prosecutors would be of “limited value,” they said, because of their “inability to fully vet his criminal history and reliability impact his utility as a witness.”
- Prosecutors said that “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.”
- The U.S. attorney’s office noted that Cohen’s cooperation with special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe provided information that “was ultimately credible and useful to its ongoing investigation.”
- But, the prosecutors added that “Cohen repeatedly declined to provide full information about the scope of any additional criminal conduct in which he may have engaged or had knowledge.”
- The prosecutors also pushed back on the characterization of Cohen from his lawyers, who presented Cohen’s cooperation as an act of principle: “While Cohen’s provision of information to the [special counsel] merits credit, his description of his actions as arising solely from some ‘personal resolve’ … ignores that Cohen first reached out to meet with the [special counsel] at a time when he knew he was under imminent threat of indictment in this District. As such, any suggestion by Cohen that his meetings with law enforcement reflect a selfless and unprompted about-face are overstated.”
- The prosecutors referenced surreptitious recordings of Trump, referred to in the filing as “Individual-1,” that Cohen made: “Cohen publicly and privately took credit for Individual-1’s political success, claiming – in a conversation that he secretly recorded – that he ‘started the whole thing . . . started the whole campaign’ in 2012 when Individual-1 expressed an interest in running for President.”
Read the full sentencing memo here.
Minutes after the New York prosecutors filed their memo, the special counsel released his own sentencing submission, in which Mueller said he was not taking a position on what sentence Cohen should receive.
Click here to read Mueller’s sentencing memo.
Cohen, 52, last week pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about an aborted proposal to build a Trump Tower development in Moscow.
Cohen’s admission to that new charge lodged by Mueller was the second time this year he has pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.
In August, Cohen appeared there before Judge William Pauley to admit guilt on eight criminal counts including tax fraud, excessive campaign contributions, making false statements to a financial institution and unlawful corporate contributions.
That first case was filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
Pauley had ordered both Mueller’s team and the Manhattan-based federal prosecutors to file their separate sentencing submissions by 5 p.m. ET on Friday.
Cohen’s attorneys submitted their own sentencing recommendation the day after Cohen’s most recent plea. They asked Pauley to sentence Cohen to no time in prison, citing his ongoing cooperation with Mueller’s investigation, and probes by other authorities.
Cooperating with the special counsel’s probe appears to be paying off for Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security advisor who pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI. Flynn had misled investigators about his conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. during the 2016 presidential transition period.
In a heavily redacted court document filed Tuesday night, Mueller recommended a light sentence for Flynn, citing the “substantial assistance” he provided to investigators over 19 interviews.
Read the full sentencing memo from New York federal prosecutors below: