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US govt seeks ‘substantial’ jail term for ex-Trump lawyer Cohen

FILE PHOTO: Michael Cohen

New York, United States | AFP | US prosecutors asked a New York court Friday to hand down a “substantial” prison sentence to President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen, rejecting the lawyer’s request for significant leniency based on his cooperation with law enforcement.

But one of two sentencing memorandums from prosecutors to the court spelled out possible fresh trouble for Trump, saying Cohen had provided Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia collusion investigation with “useful” information on contacts between Trump’s 2016 election campaign and Moscow.

“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,” New York’s US Attorney Robert Khuzami said in a court submission.

Khuzami cited the officially recommended sentence range of 51 to 63 months for Cohen, who was a top executive and Trump’s fixer at the Trump Organization.

But he added that to account for the limited cooperation by Cohen, he could support a “modest” downward adjustment from that range, suggesting a four-year prison term.

After a year under investigation, on August 21 Cohen pleaded guilty to charges of campaign finance violations over secret hush payments he made on Trump’s behalf to alleged former lovers of the president, as well as to separate tax and financial fraud charges.

Then on November 29, he pleaded guilty to an additional charge of lying to Congress over matters related to the Russia collusion investigation being run by Mueller.

Last week, Cohen asked the New York court for leniency — specifically, no jail time — in a memorandum in which he expressed remorse and said he had significantly cooperated with investigators.

But Khuzami’s office rejected that view, saying his cooperation was limited, not offering information beyond the specific charges facing him.

Cohen’s request was “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,” Khuzami said.

“But the crimes committed by Cohen were more serious than his submission allows and were marked by a pattern of deception that permeated his professional life.”

In a separate filing to the same court from Mueller, Cohen was described as having “gone to significant lengths to assist” that investigation, meeting with Mueller’s team — the SCO — seven times.

Cohen “voluntarily provided the SCO with information about his own conduct and that of others on core topics under investigation by the SCO, and committed to continuing to assist the SCO’s investigation,” Mueller said.

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