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U.S. Prosecutors Seek ‘Substantial’ Prison Term for Trump’s Longtime Lawyer

U.S. prosecutors are seeking a "substantial" prison term for Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former lawyer.
U.S. prosecutors are seeking a "substantial" prison term for Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former lawyer.

U.S. prosecutors have asked a judge to sentence President Donald Trump's longtime personal lawyer to a "substantial" prison term after he admitted to paying a porn actress money to keep her from embarrassing Trump during the 2016 election.

Meanwhile, Special Counsel Robert Mueller asked a judge for no additional prison time for Michael Cohen on a separate set of charges that said Cohen lied about potential Moscow real estate development that could have brought Trump’s business "hundreds of millions of dollars from Russian sources."

The two filings were made in Manhattan federal court on December 7.

The charges Cohen faced from Manhattan federal prosecutors were separate from, but grew out of, Mueller's investigation into Trump associates and their interactions with Russian officials.

Cohen, who has been cooperating with Mueller, pleaded guilty to charges including tax, bank, and campaign finance fraud in August.

Cohen worked for years for Trump’s business organization, serving as a "fixer," to help out with business deals and other matters.

Some of the charges Cohen faced stem from his efforts to prevent at least two women from going public with their stories of having affairs with Trump, something that Trump has denied repeatedly.

Some of the money that was paid to the women allegedly came from shell corporations that Cohen set up, and with money that was allegedly provided by Trump.

Investigators have been looking at whether the money Trump allegedly paid could constitute a contribution to his election effort, and whether it should have been disclosed under federal election law.

Prosecutors said that Cohen should get some credit for his cooperation with Mueller, but noted that he had not entered into a cooperation agreement with their office. And they said that some of his cooperation came only after it became clear he was about to be indicted, rather than before.

"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 (and was evidently hidden from the friends and family members who wrote on his behalf)," prosecutors wrote.

Mueller’s sentencing request, meanwhile, focused on Cohen's admission last week that he lied to congressional committees also looking into connections with Russian officials.

Mueller's prosecutors said that Cohen misled at least one congressional committee about the discussions he had with unnamed Russian officials and other officials about a building that Trump had long sought to build in Moscow.

Cohen had previously said that talks about the deal stopped in January 2016, but, according to Mueller’s court filing, those discussions in fact were ongoing as late as June 2016, as Trump was closing in on securing the Republican Party's nomination to be U.S. president.

Cohen admitted he misled the Senate Intelligence Committee about that and other details in testimony he provided to the committee in August 2017.

Cohen is scheduled to be sentence on December 12 on all the federal charges he has pleaded guilty to.

Trump has called repeatedly called Mueller's investigation a "witch-hunt" and denied wrongdoing.

Earlier this week, he asserted that Cohen had lied about Trump's business dealings in Russia to get reduced jail time.

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    Mike Eckel

    Mike Eckel is a senior correspondent reporting on political and economic developments in Russia, Ukraine, and around the former Soviet Union, as well as news involving cybercrime and espionage. He's reported on the ground on Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the wars in Chechnya and Georgia, and the 2004 Beslan hostage crisis, as well as the annexation of Crimea in 2014.