Feds recommend ‘substantial’ jail time for Michael Cohen; Mueller recommendation cites Russia investigation cooperation

Two separate filings made Friday

Government seeks prison time for Cohen; Mueller less harsh

(RNN/AP) – Federal prosecutors recommended “a substantial term of imprisonment” for Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former personal attorney, in a filing on Friday.

Cohen pleaded guilty in August to eight counts that included tax evasion and campaign finance violations.

Acting U.S. Attorney Robert Khuzami from the Southern District of New York said Cohen “seeks extraordinary leniency ... 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.”

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

Separately, special counsel Robert Mueller also filed a sentencing recommendation for Cohen on Friday, taking a more sympathetic view.

While it noted the seriousness of Cohen’s crimes for which the U.S. Attorney’s office prosecuted him, it also gave a favorable review of his cooperation in the Russia investigation.

The memo said Cohen “has taken significant steps to mitigate his criminal conduct” in recent months, and “chose to accept responsibility for his false statements and admit to his conduct in open court" while going to “significant lengths” to cooperate in the Russia investigation.

The filing, however, said the special counsel “does not take a position with respect to a particular sentence to be imposed" but said it would be appropriate to allow Cohen to serve his prison time for a separate crime - his guilty plea entered last week over lying to Congress about a 2016 development deal Trump pursued in Russia - concurrently with any sentence imposed in the U.S. Attorney’s financial crimes case.

Mueller’s document outlined Cohen’s cooperation with the special counsel investigation.

It said he has met with Mueller’s team seven times, and that his statements “have been credible.”

It said Cohen had been helpful in four distinct respects, including providing information about his contacts with “Russian interests” during the 2016 presidential campaign.

It cited, in particular, Cohen’s information regarding what it called the “Moscow Project,” the development deal in Russia that Trump allegedly pursued during the campaign.

It said Cohen spoke with a Russian national, as far back as November 2015, who wanted to connect “Individual 1,” known to be Trump, and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“The person told Cohen that such a meeting could have a ‘phenomenal’ impact ‘not only in political but in a business dimension as well,’” Mueller’s filing states.

Mueller’s filing also said Cohen had provided information about Russian attempts to contact the campaign, information “concerning discrete Russia-related matters" considered “core” to the Russia investigation, information about his contacts and communications with the White House and Trump administration officials after the president took office, and details about his lies to Congress.

Shortly after the filings were released, Trump appeared to respond to them, tweeting: “Totally clears the President. Thank you!”

A document outlining how former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort violated his plea deal, after Mueller’s team alleged last week that he had “breached” it by lying to investigators, also was filed Friday.

Copyright 2018 Raycom News Network. The Associated Press contributed to the report. All rights reserved.