New secret filing in case of former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen
What’s in the vault?
Someone on Wednesday filed a document saying something in connection with a criminal case against President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.
But who filed it and what it says are a mystery.
The document, which is sealed from public view, was “placed in vault” at U.S. District Court in Manhattan, according to a docket entry.
The filing came a week after Cohen, 52, was sentenced to three years in prison for his guilty pleas in cases brought separately by federal prosecutors in New York, and by the office of special counsel Robert Mueller.
The sealed document was filed in a case brought against Cohen by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
In that case, Cohen pleaded guilty to tax evasion, making false statements to a bank, and to campaign contribution crimes related to the payments of hush money to two women who claim they had affairs with Trump.
In the case filed by Mueller, Cohen admitted lying to Congress about the extent of Trump’s knowledge of a plan to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, and about when that plan died.
Neither Cohen’s lawyer Guy Petrillo nor a spokesman for the federal prosecutors in New York immediately responded to emails asking who filed the document or what it says.
One question that has loomed since Cohen was sentenced is whether he will now try to get his prison term reduced by offering prosecutors additional cooperation beyond what he already has given them.
Cohen is due to surrender to prison on March 6.
Before his sentencing, Cohen met seven times with investigators from Mueller’s office to assist them with their ongoing investigations, which include probing whether Trump presidential campaign officials colluded with Russians in Russia’s illegal effort to interfere in the 2016 election.
He also met twice with prosecutors from the Southern District of New York. Legal experts have said those prosecutors may have grounds to charge Trump with campaign finance crimes for allegedly directing Cohen to facilitate payments to the two women in order to keep their claims out of the public eye before Election Day 2016.
The White House has denied he had sex with either of those women, porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal.
Trump, who denies any criminal wrongdoing, and has called Cohen a rat and a liar.
Mueller’s office, in a sentencing memo, wrote that Cohen went “to significant lengths to assist the special counsel’s investigation.”
The Southern District prosecutors in their own memo noted that Cohen gave them “useful information about matters” being investigated by their office.
But those same prosecutors also said that Cohen declined to be debriefed on any other uncharged criminal conduct that might exist in his past. They also said that he would not meet with prosecutors about other areas of interest to them.