Dec. 7 (UPI) — President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, should receive a “substantial” prison term for breaking campaign finance laws by arranging to pay two women to keep silent about affair allegations in order to influence the 2016 presidential election, prosecutors said Friday.
Cohen pleaded guilty in August to eight counts, including tax evacuation, excessive campaign contribution, causing an unlawful corporate contribution and false statements to a bank.
In a sentencing memo filed Friday, prosecutors said that though Cohen cooperated, he did so at a later date that was “of limited value” to the office.
“In particular, the nature and seriousness of the offenses and the need to promote respect for the law and afford adequate deterrence are especially weighty considerations,” the U.S. attorney’s office wrote.
“Cohen managed to commit a panoply of serious crimes, all while holding himself out as a licensed attorney and upstanding member of the bar. His offenses strike at several pillars of our society and system of government: the payment of taxes; transparent and fair elections; and truthfulness before government and in business.”
The U.S. attorneys office, citing a sentencing guideline of 51 months to 63 months in prison for the crimes, recommended a somewhat lower sentence for Cohen.
The filing also marks the first time prosecutors have accused Trump of committing a felony in a court document.
“In particular, and as Cohen himself has now admitted, with respect to both payments, he acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1,” the document said.
Earlier in the filing, prosecutors identified “Individual-1” as someone for whom Cohen worked at the time and who “began an ultimately successful campaign for president of the United States.”
Minutes after the U.S. attorney’s office’s filing, special counsel Robert Mueller’s team filed their own sentencing memo asking that any sentence for a separate case — in which Cohen lied in the Russia probe — run concurrently to the campaign finance sentence. The team did not take a position on how long Cohen should be sentenced.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the two filings “tell us nothing of value that wasn’t already known.”
“Mr. Cohen has repeatedly lied and as the prosecution has pointed out to the court, Mr. Cohen is no hero.”
In the campaign finance plea agreement, Cohen said he paid $130,000 to adult film star Stormy Daniels — also known as Stephanie Clifford — shortly before the 2016 presidential election for her to keep quiet about an affair she said she had with Trump after he married first lady Melania Trump. Cohen said he made the payment “at the direction of the candidate,” referring to Trump. Cohen said he also paid former Playboy Karen McDougal, who also said she had an affair with Trump.
Trump has denied both affairs.
U.S. Attorney Robert Khuzami said Cohen also failed to report an income of more than $4.3 million, which cost the United States $1.3 million in taxes.
The FBI began investigating Cohen earlier this year after a referral from Mueller. On April 9, the FBI raided Cohen’s home, hotel room and office as part of a criminal probe related to his taxi medallion business, bank loans and the payment to Daniels.
Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, said in May that the president reimbursed Cohen for the $130,000 payment to Daniels, but campaign funds were never used. The Office of Government Ethics said the payment should have been reported in Trump’s 2017 financial disclosure.
Cohen worked for the Trump Organization and was part of Trump’s inner circle for about a decade. At one point Cohen said he would take a bullet for the president, but recently said his first loyalty was to his family and country.
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In November, Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress in regards to the Russia probe.
The Justice Department charged Cohen for telling House and Senate committees last year that a plan to build a Trump Tower in Moscow ended in January 2016. The plea agreement said development continued after that date.
Trump has said multiple times he had no business dealings in Russia — and Cohen told lawmakers he never contacted anyone in Russia about the real estate project. The agreement said Cohen, in fact, spoke on the phone with a Russian intermediary for help with the development.
Cohen also admitted to discussing the deal with Trump, identified in the plea agreement as “Individual 1,” on three occasions and briefing family members involved in the Trump Organization.
The documents say Cohen lied to lawmakers out of loyalty and to minimize ties with Russia during Trump’s campaign. The Mueller investigation is trying to determine if Moscow interfered in the 2016 U.S. election and whether any members of Trump’s campaign were involved.