Federal prosecutors in Manhattan released a memo on Friday detailing the extent of Michael Cohen’s crimes and recommended a 3.5-year sentence and a $100,000 fine for the former lawyer for President Donald Trump.
In August, Cohen pleaded guilty in the Southern District of New York to eight federal crimes, including tax fraud, bank fraud, and campaign finance violations that he said he carried out at Trump’s behest. Cohen could have faced up to 65 years in prison if he had gone to trial and had been convicted.
Prosecutors said he “was motivated to do so by personal greed, and repeatedly used his power and influence for deceptive ends. Now he seeks extraordinary leniency — a sentence of no jail time — based principally on his rose-colored view of the seriousness of the crimes.”
They continued: “But 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.”
Last week, Cohen pleaded guilty to one count of lying to Congress, a crime that usually merits a sentence of about six months in jail, as part of a plea deal to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation. He specifically pleaded guilty to lying in his September 2017 testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee regarding the times during which the Trump Organization actively pursued a deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow amid the 2016 election.
A separate sentencing memo for that guilty plea also filed by the special counsel Robert Mueller’s office on Friday described a pattern of dishonesty, but recommended a more lenient punishment that allows Cohen to serve a sentence concurrent with the one he serves for the crimes he pleaded guilty to in the Southern District of New York.
Even though his first plea deal did not include a formal cooperation agreement, a sentencing memo submitted last week by Cohen’s lawyers said Cohen has offered to assist law enforcement at every possible turn.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded to the sentencing document on Friday, saying Cohen is “no hero,” and claiming that the latest filings “tell us nothing of value that wasn’t already known.”
The memo said Cohen has given 70 hours of testimony to the special counsel’s office alone, has met with federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York and state investigators in New York, and has also cooperated with a separate unknown “open inquiry” conducted by the New York State Attorney General’s Office.
The special counsel said Cohen provided testimony on four matters of importance to the Russia probe:
- Cohen’s contacts with Russian officials and others in the process of carrying out the “Moscow Project” to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
Information related to “certain discrete Russia-related matters core to its investigation that he obtained by virtue of his regular contact with Company executives during the campaign.” (The “Company” is in apparent reference to the Trump Organization.)
- Information on his contacts with people in and around the White House in the period of 2017-18.
- The “circumstances of preparing and circulating” his false statements to Congress during the 2016 campaign while he was working on the Moscow Project.
Both the SDNY prosecutors and the special counsel emphasized how Cohen’s pervasive dishonesty impeded the investigation, with Mueller’s office saying Cohen made false and misleading statements in his first meeting with the special counsel’s office, the same false statements he made in his Congressional testimony.
But beginning in his second meeting, they said, Cohen “has made substantial and significant efforts to remediate his misconduct, accept responsibility for his actions, and assist the SCO’s investigation.”