US prosecutors name Trump in hush payments, detail Russian contacts

US prosecutors name Trump in hush payments, detail Russian contacts

Court filings Friday from prosecutors in NY and special counsel Robert Mueller laid out why Michael Cohen, U.S. President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer, and Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign manager, deserve prison time.

Attorneys from the Southern District of NY state explicitly in the court filing that Cohen "acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1" in handling payments to two women who claimed to have an affair with Trump long before the election. They said his sentence should reflect a "modest" reduction from the four to five years they said federal guidelines would suggest. Cohen has pleaded guilty to false statements minimizing the involvement of then candidate Trump on the Trump Organization's "Moscow Project" and the timing of its abandonment.

It was the first time the feds directly linked Trump to hush- money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal - a fact noted by former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti.

Although Cohen has been cooperating with investigators in New York City and with the office of Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller, he does not have a full cooperation agreement with the government.

Mueller's office also submitted a sentencing memo today for Cohen's other guilty plea from the end of November, where he acknowledged lying to Congress when he said negotiations with Russian Federation to build a hotel in Moscow had ended before the primary season kicked off in the spring of 2016 (they had not).

And this time, unlike his early morning outburst in which the president seemed to be on the verge of panic, Trump confidently proclaimed that the new filings mean he is proven innocent and home free. He is to be sentenced next week, and may face several years in prison.

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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.

The court documents make clear how witnesses previously close to Trump - Cohen once declared he'd "take a bullet" for the president - have since provided damaging information about him in efforts to come clean to the government and in some cases get lighter prison sentences.

As well as recommending jail time, the filing says that Cohen had claimed Trump instructed him to approve payments that violated campaign finance law.

The filing says the meeting never happened.

In an additional filing Friday evening, prosecutors said Manafort lied about his contacts with a Russian associate and Trump administration officials, including in 2018.

Prosecutors in NY, where Cohen pleaded guilty in August in connection with those payments, said the lawyer "acted in coordination and at the direction" of Trump. "But Cohen's description of those efforts is overstated in some respects and incomplete in others". He was motivated to do so by personal greed, and repeatedly used his power and influence for deceptive ends. Mueller's office gave him some credit for his assistance, saying that while his crime was "serious", he had "taken significant steps to mitigate his criminal conduct".

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