Court filings link Trump to illegal payments, shed more light on Russian contacts
by Harvest Prude & Mickey McLean
Posted 12/08/18, 11:04 am
UPDATE: In court filings released Friday, federal prosecutors in New York said Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, arranged hush money payments directed by Trump to two women alleging affairs with him, violating campaign finance laws. Prosecutors, however, did not accuse the president of a crime.
Meanwhile, the sentencing memo from special counsel Robert Mueller’s office for Cohen, also released Friday, revealed that Russians were seeking through Cohen “political synergy” with Trump early in his campaign for president, appealing to his business and political interests. Mueller’s office gave Cohen, who is seeking no jail time, credit for his cooperation in the investigation, but prosecutors in New York aren’t offering much leniency, recommending a prison sentence of about 3½ years.
In a separate court filing involving Paul Manafort, Mueller’s office said the former Trump campaign chairman “told multiple discernable lies” about his contacts with a Russian associate and Trump administration officials, and that he continued to lie after a plea deal pledging his cooperation had been struck. Evidence included “electronic documents” that were recovered showing contact with multiple members of the administration.
The president responded to the court filings Saturday morning, tweeting, “AFTER TWO YEARS AND MILLIONS OF PAGES OF DOCUMENTS (and a cost of over $30,000,000), NO COLLUSION!”
OUR EARLIER REPORT (12/07/18, 12:56 p.m.): WASHINGTON—Special counsel Robert Mueller’s office is expected to release new filings Friday related to President Donald Trump’s former associates Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen. Prosecutors are expected to explain why they last week accused former Trump campaign chairman Manafort of lying to investigators in violation of his plea deal. Manafort pleaded guilty to conspiracy and witness tampering and pledged to cooperate with prosecutors to get a lighter sentence. In another filing, investigators will recommend punishment for Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney, ahead of his final sentencing next week. The court memo filings by Mueller’s team will describe Cohen’s cooperation on multiple investigations. Cohen previously pleaded guilty to federal charges related to campaign finance violations and later sat for multiple interviews with investigators.
In a Tuesday court filing, Mueller’s office recommended that former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn receive little to no jail time because he cooperated with the investigation.
The president took to Twitter to blast the special counsel’s probe Friday, saying Mueller has “big time conflicts of interest” and that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is “totally conflicted.” Trump also said his lawyers have drafted 87 pages so far in response to the investigation, adding that it couldn’t be completed until Mueller wraps up the probe. The president tweeted that his administration “will be doing a major Counter Report to the Mueller Report!”
Read more from The Sift Sign up for The Sift email