Federal prosecutors on Friday asked a judge to sentence U.S. President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, to a “substantial” prison term for paying an adult film star hush money on Mr. Trump’s behalf and evading taxes, and detailed alleged lies by another former Trump aide.
Mr. Cohen, who has been co-operating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into possible collusion between Russia and Mr. Trump’s 2016 election campaign, pleaded guilty to financial crimes in August in New York, and to a separate charge of lying to Congress in a case disclosed by Mueller last week.
Prosecutors in both those cases were required to submit separate memos on Mr. Cohen’s co-operation to U.S. District Judge William Pauley in Manhattan, who will decide Mr. Cohen’s sentence on Dec. 12.
Pressing the judge to reject Cohen’s request he be spared prison, the New York prosecutors described Mr. Cohen in their filing as being motivated by “personal greed” and said he “repeatedly used his power and influence for deceptive ends.”
They said Mr. Cohen should receive some credit for co-operating with Mr. Mueller but noted he had not entered into a co-operation agreement with their office. They said his sentence should reflect a “modest” reduction from the four to five years they said federal guidelines would suggest.
Mr. Mueller said Mr. Cohen had voluntarily provided information about his own and others’ conduct on “core topics under investigation” and described the information “credible and consistent with other evidence” they had obtained.
Mr. Cohen admitted to lying to congressional investigators in an attempt to minimize his efforts to secure the Kremlin’s help in 2016 for a planned Trump skyscraper in Moscow. He has said he did so to stay in sync with Mr. Trump’s political messaging and consulted with the White House while preparing to testify.
In addition to information on the Moscow tower project, Mr. Cohen also told Mr. Mueller about a conversation he had in November, 2015, with a Russian national who offered the campaign “political synergy” with Russia and a meeting between Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin. Mr. Cohen did not follow up on the offer, the filing says.
Citing Mr. Cohen’s co-operation, Mr. Mueller suggested the sentence for lying to Congress run concurrently with the sentence in the New York case.
Also on Friday, Mr. Mueller disclosed details of alleged lies told by Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, during interviews with prosecutors. Last month, Mr. Mueller voided his plea agreement because, they said, he was not telling the truth.
They said Mr. Manafort told “multiple discernible lies,” including about his communications with a political consultant will alleged ties to Russian intelligence, and about interactions with Trump administration officials even after Mr. Manafort was first indicted in late 2017.
The Mueller probe has infuriated Mr. Trump, who has regularly issued tweets criticizing the special counsel and his team.
The president has denied any collusion between his campaign and Russia, and accuses Mr. Mueller’s prosecutors of pressuring his former aides to lie about him, his election campaign and his business dealings. Russia has denied meddling.
Friday’s disclosures suggest Mr. Mueller is making progress building evidence of contacts between Russians and the Trump campaign, legal experts said.
“Taken as a whole, the contentions … punctuate the point that the government has a tremendous amount of information about what went on in the campaign and what went on afterward,” said Mark Zauderer, a New York-based appellate lawyer.
In new tweets on Friday, Mr. Trump accused federal investigators and senior officials of having conflicts of interest, without offering any evidence. White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said on Friday that Mr. Cohen has “repeatedly lied” and that Mr. Manafort’s case had absolutely nothing to do with the president.
Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein said the disclosures should underscore the importance of the Mueller investigation.
“These legal documents outline serious and criminal wrongdoing, including felony violations of campaign finance laws at the direction of President Trump,” she said in a statement.