Mueller Details Cohen Contacts With Russia

Special Counsel Robert Mueller gave a “potentially ominous” description of Michael Cohen’s cooperation. The White House noted that Cohen had “repeatedly lied.” Federal prosecutors in New York City called for a four-year prison term.

President Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen told special counsel Robert Mueller that he conferred with Trump about arranging a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the early stages of the 2016 campaign, Mueller’s office said in a court filing, reports Politico. Cohen told Mueller’s prosecutors he reached out to Russia’s government to arrange a meeting during Putin’s visit to the United Nations General Assembly in late 2015. Cohen said he conferred with Trump about it beforehand. The meeting did not take place. The disclosure offered the latest glimpse into Cohen’s sharp turn from Trump fixer  into cooperating Mueller witness. It highlights evidence that Trump’s was seeking to forge deeper ties with Russia’s government as he was ramping up his campaign.

Mueller’s vague but potentially ominous description of the scope of Cohen’s cooperation is likely to cause deep concern at the White House. Still, Trump press secretary Sarah Sanders said, “The government’s filings in Mr. Cohen’s case 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.” Mueller’s description of Cohen as a helpful witness was at odds with a filing by federal prosecutors in Manhattan, who said Cohen offered minimal assistance after he admitted a string of serious financial crimes. Those prosecutors recommended Cohen serve a sentence of just shy of four years. Cohen’s sentence is set to be decided next Wednesday by U.S. District Judge William Pauley. Cohen’s debriefs with Mueller’s prosecutors produced information about other Russian attempts to connect with the Trump campaign. In 2015, Cohen spoke to an unnamed Russian claiming to be a “trusted person” in the Russian Federation who offered to help Trump’s campaign with “political synergy” and “synergy on a government level.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

Prosecutors Seek No Prison Time for Michael Flynn

Under a plea deal, Michael Flynn, former national security adviser to President Trump, faced up to six months in prison. Prosecutors now say he deserves no time behind bars because of his “substantial assistance” in 19 interviews.

Former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn has provided “substantial assistance” to the U.S., special counsel, prosecutors told a federal judge Tuesday, recommending a nonprison sentence, reports the National Law Journal. Flynn has helped in “several ongoing investigations,” the prosecutors said in a heavily-redacted document. They noted his aid in a criminal investigation—although details were hidden behind redactions—as well as special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into possible coordination between President Trump’s campaign and the Kremlin in the 2016 U.S. election. Flynn has participated in 19 interviews with the Justice Department.

Prosecutors noted the “usefulness” of Flynn’s assistance, writing his “early cooperation was particularly valuable, because he was one of the few people with long-term and firsthand insight into events and issues under investigation by” Mueller. The memo is the first look into the extent of Flynn’s cooperation with the special counsel’s office after striking a plea agreement a year ago. Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators about his contact with ex-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the presidential transition. Flynn is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 18 by U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan in Washington, D.C. The likely would face up to six month in prison under his plea deal. On Friday, prosecutors are expected to disclose new details about former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s alleged breach of his plea agreement by allegedly lying to federal authorities while cooperating with Mueller’s investigation.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Michael Cohen Takes Suprising, Risky Strategy

Cohen has twice pleaded guilty to a litany of crimes, and he has volunteered information to the special counsel and other agencies investigating President Trump. He did this without obtaining a deal under which the government would seek leniency on Cohen’s behalf when he is sentenced Dec. 12.

Of all of President Trump’s associates who have come under scrutiny in the special counsel’s Russia investigation, lawyer Michael Cohen has taken the most surprising and risky legal strategy, the New York Times reports. Cohen has twice pleaded guilty to a litany of crimes, and he has volunteered information to the special counsel and other agencies investigating  Trump. He did this without obtaining a traditional, ironclad deal under which the government would seek leniency on Cohen’s behalf when he is sentenced Dec. 12. Cohen concluded that his life has been destroyed by his relationship with Trump and his own actions, and to begin anew he needed to speed up the legal process by quickly confessing crimes and serving a sentence. He has told friends that he is mystified that he is taking the fall for his actions on behalf of Trump, who remains unscathed.

Cohen, who once said he would “take a bullet” for Trump, was Trump’s fixer who had a hand in shady deals. He has admitted he lied to Congress to help Trump and broke campaign finance laws by arranging hush money for women who might have embarrassed Trump with accusations of infidelity as he ran for president. Cohen’s approach drew a stinging reaction from Trump, who tweeted angrily on Monday that Cohen “lied for this outcome and should … serve a full and complete sentence.” Cooperating witnesses are often not sentenced until investigations are completed, years later. Cohen was concerned that signing a deal would delay his sentencing. Since FBI raids on him in April, many of his commercial relationships and longstanding friendships have vanished, his attorneys told a judge, “Thus, the necessity, at age 52, to begin his life virtually anew, including developing new means to support his family, convinced Michael to seek an early sentence date.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

Cohen Asks Judge to Avoid Prison in Two Trump Cases

Michael Cohen’s memo to a federal judge depicts him as an unsophisticated and flawed man trying to please an exacting, demanding and powerful boss. Cohen is to be sentenced next week.

Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former personal lawyer who has twice pleaded guilty to crimes that have implicated Trump in illegal or questionable conduct, has asked a federal judge that he be allowed to avoid prison when he is sentenced in less than two weeks, reports the New York Times. In a memorandum that expressed Cohen’s contrition and shame, defense lawyers portrayed him as a man whose personal and professional lives had been shattered, and who had harmed himself legally while trying to protect Trump. The lawyers cited Cohen’s cooperation with special counsel Robert Mueller, whose legitimacy is regularly denounced by the president. Lawyers Guy Petrillo and Amy Lester submitted the memo one day after Cohen entered a guilty plea in federal court in Manhattan to a charge of lying to Congress in a case filed by Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and potential ties to Trump’s campaign.

In August, Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations and financial crimes in a case brought by the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan. In that plea, Cohen implicated Trump in hush-money payments to two women during the 2016 campaign to conceal affairs they said they had with Trump. Cohen, 52, is to be sentenced by Judge William Pauley Dec. 12 in both cases. The new memo provided a detailed, on-the-record glimpse of what took place between Cohen and Trump in relation to arranging payments to two women who said during the 2016 campaign that they had had affairs with the candidate. The document depicts Cohen as an unsophisticated and flawed man who was trying to please an exacting, demanding and powerful boss: Trump. Cohen’s lawyers wrote that he realized his guilt in lying to Congress about the duration of his involvement with a Trump Tower project he was exploring for Moscow.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Cohen Plea Raises The Pressure on Trump

Michael Cohen told special counsel Robert Mueller he lied to Congress to play down President Trump’s involvement in 2016 in efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Trump calls Cohen a “weak person” and said he lied to get a reduced sentence.

Michael Cohen told special counsel Robert Mueller he lied to Congress to play down President Trump’s involvement in 2016 in efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, raising the pressure on his former boss as investigators probe his business relationship with Russia, the Wall Street Journal reports. Cohen’s guilty plea on Thursday showed that he purposely minimized Trump’s connection to the project. Cohen told Congress he had “limited” discussions about the proposed real-estate deal with Trump, identified in the charging document as “Individual 1.” The discussions were, in fact, “more extensive,”  Cohen said. On Thursday, Trump called Cohen a “weak person” and accused him of lying to get a reduced sentence. Trump said he had opted not to do the Moscow project because he was “focused on running for president.”

Felix Sater, a longtime associate of Trump who worked on the Russian real-estate project, proposed to Cohen giving Russian President Vladimir Putin a $50 million penthouse in the Moscow tower as a marketing tool, Sater told the Journal. Cohen said he made false statements that the Moscow project efforts ended in January 2016 before the Republican primaries began. Cohen told the court he lied “out of loyalty” to Trump. He has spent at least 70 hours meeting with Mueller’s investigators. Rudy Giuliani, a lawyer for Trump, didn’t dispute  Cohen’s claims about the president’s involvement in the Moscow project. “We are not accusing poor Michael of lying,” he said. He also called  Cohen a “proven perjurer and serial liar who can’t be trusted.” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who is expected to take control of the House Intelligence Committee next year, said the committee would seek Cohen’s cooperation to investigate whether Russians possess financial leverage over Trump and his associates.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Michael Cohen Admits Lying to Congress About Deal

Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer, who pleaded guilty in August to breaking campaign finance laws, admitted in court Thursday making false statements to Congress about his efforts to pursue a Trump Tower deal in Moscow during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer, who pleaded guilty in August to breaking campaign finance laws, admitted in court Thursday making false statements to Congress about his efforts to pursue a Trump Tower deal in Moscow during the 2016 presidential campaign, the New York Times reports. The real estate deal has been a focus of the special counsel investigation into whether the Trump campaign conspired with Russian operatives. In testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee, Cohen played down the extent of his contact with the Kremlin about the potential project and made other false statements about the negotiations, which never led to a deal.

Cohen’s new guilty plea comes at a particularly perilous time for Trump, whose presidency has been threatened by Cohen’s statements to investigators. In recent days, the president and his lawyers have increased their attacks on the Justice Department and the special counsel’s office. It was the first time that special counsel Robert Mueller has charged Cohen. In exchange for pleading guilty and continuing to cooperate with Mueller, he may hope to receive a lighter sentence than he otherwise would. In two weeks, Cohen, 52, is scheduled to be sentenced for his earlier guilty plea. It was just three months ago that Cohen stood up in a different Manhattan courtroom and accused Trump of directing hush-money payments during the 2016 campaign to conceal potential sex scandals. Those payments formed the basis of the campaign finance charges against Cohen.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Accused Russian Spy Maria Butina, in Solitary, Called Victim of Psychological ‘Torture’

The 30-year-old Russian has been teaching yoga and baking cookies since she was arrested on charges of working for Russian intelligence during the 2016 election campaign, say sympathetic supporters. She was sent to administrative segregation this week for what prison officials claimed was her “safety.”

The accused Russian spy who is one of the most intriguing figures in the investigation into President Trump’s election campaign has landed in solitary confinement for the second time, and her supporters back home claim the U.S. government is creating “conditions of torture” to ramp up “psychological pressure” on her.

But authorities at the Alexandria, Va., detention facility where she has been housed counter that Maria Butina was moved into administrative segregation for her own “safety.”

Butina, who faces charges of conspiring to act as a foreign agent, has been imprisoned since her arrest July 16, after she was judged a flight risk by authorities. According to prosecutors, she was working for Russian intelligence as part of a stealth mission to subvert the 2016 election.

The  Siberian-born Butina, who celebrated her 30th birthday in jail, has pleaded not guilty to the charges, and officials, family and supporters in her native land are eagerly using the latest wrinkle in her case to generate sympathy.

“She is not allowed to take a walk during the day, only between 2 and 4 in the morning,” Ivan Melnikov, vice president of the Russian division of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, told the Russian news service Interfax. 

“It is unacceptable from the human rights standpoint,” Melnikov said in a report translated and posted by Johnson’s Russia List, a listserv of news from Russia supported by George Washington University. “At night, a human being should be asleep.”

Placing her in solitary, he said, “constitutes the creation of conditions of torture to exert psychological pressure.”

When she was first jailed, Butina was confined briefly to a solitary cell in a Washington, DC, detention center for 22 hours a day, and later released into the general population.

According to her lawyer, who filed a petition for her release this week, she was moved into solitary a second time by Virginia prison authorities after she gave a fellow inmate the name and phone number of her lawyers.

Attorney Robert Driscoll said he was told the decision was made “for her safety,” CNN.com reported.

Prison authorities have so far not commented on her case.

Maria Butina

A photo of Maria Butina before she was jailed. Photo via Wikipedia.

Butina, a former American University graduate student, developed close friendships with leading conservative activists who in turn reportedly put her in contact with major players in both the Republican Party and the National Rifle Association.

But her compatriots, who believe she is a scapegoat in U.S. partisan wrangling, are trying to turn her into a heroine.

A sympathetic report in the Russian newspaper Izvestia this week, headlined “Despite tough prison conditions, Butina stays strong,” painted her as a “hostage to big politics.”

“Maria is being held hostage to big politics,” Alexander Domin, a Moscow law professor described as a personal friend, told the paper. “By arresting her, Washington is flaunting its power.

“The Russian Foreign Ministry now faces a serious task: to help our political prisoners return home.”

According to the Izvestia dispatch, Butina spent her time teaching yoga and algebra to her fellow inmates when she was housed in the general prison population, and even started to learn Italian.

“I heard that she and her fellow inmates even baked cookies,” her father Valery Butin was quoted as saying. “But it is difficult to imagine how hard it is when your daughter is jailed under spurious charges.

“I hope this nightmare will end soon and we will meet again.”

Butina faces years in prison if convicted.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Manafort Lawyer Briefed Giuliani on Mueller Probe

Some experts speculated that the briefings were part of a bid by Manafort for a presidential pardon even as he worked with special counsel Robert Mueller in hopes of a lighter sentence. Rudolph Giuliani, a Trump lawyer, defended the arrangement as a source of valuable insights into the special counsel’s inquiry.

A lawyer for Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, repeatedly briefed Trump’s lawyers on his client’s discussions with federal investigators after Manafort agreed to cooperate with the special counsel, reports the New York Times. The arrangement was highly unusual and inflamed tensions with the special counsel’s office when prosecutors discovered it after Manafort began cooperating two months ago. Some experts speculated that it was a bid by Manafort for a presidential pardon even as he worked with special counsel Robert Mueller in hopes of a lighter sentence. Rudolph Giuliani, a Trump lawyer, defended the arrangement as a source of valuable insights into the special counsel’s inquiry and where it was headed.

Giuliani said Manafort’s lawyer, Kevin Downing, told him that prosecutors hammered away at whether the president knew about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting where Russians promised to deliver damaging information on Hillary Clinton to his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr. The president has long denied knowing about the meeting in advance.  Mueller “wants Manafort to incriminate Trump,” Giuliani declared. While Downing’s discussions with the president’s team violated no laws, they helped contribute to a deteriorating relationship between lawyers for  Manafort and Mueller’s prosecutors. Manafort is facing sentencing on two conspiracy charges and eight counts of financial fraud, crimes that could put him behind bars for at least 10 years. Giuliani accused the prosecutor overseeing the Manafort investigation, Andrew Weissmann, of keeping Manafort in solitary confinement simply in the hopes of forcing him to give false testimony about the president.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Mueller Says Manafort Keeps Lying, Breaks Plea Deal

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort continued to lie to the FBI and to special counsel Robert Mueller after his plea deal in September, Mueller’s office. Manafort denies it, but the allegation may lead to his spending well over a decade in prison unless he is pardoned.

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort continued to lie to the FBI and to special counsel Robert Mueller after his plea deal in September, Mueller’s office alleged Monday. That would be a breach of the agreement by a person whose cooperation has been considered a key asset in the probe, the Wall Street Journal reports. Manafort, who pleaded guilty to conspiring against the U.S. and obstruction of justice, agreed to cooperate with the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Mueller’s office said it would file a detailed submission describing Manafort’s “crimes and lies” later. Manafort, disputed Mueller’s characterization of his cooperation, saying he met with government investigators many times and answered their questions.

Legal experts say Manafort, 69, likely faced more than a decade in prison under his plea deal, and prosecutors now could ask for additional time. He could get a pardon from President Trump, however. Meanwhile, conservative author and activist Jerome Corsi said he rejected an offer from Mueller to plead guilty to lying about his interactions with the website WikiLeaks and with Trump adviser Roger Stone in 2016. “They want me to swear in front of a judge that I am a felon,” Corsi said. “I believe I did not lie to them. I handed over everything.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

Papadopoulos Ordered to Start Prison Term Monday

A federal judge on Sunday rejected George Papadopoulos’ plea to delay the start of his imprisonment pending the outcome of a challenge to the power of special counsel Robert Mueller

George Papadopoulos, a former foreign policy adviser on the Trump presidential campaign who lied to authorities in the special counsel’s Russia investigation, must surrender Monday to begin a 14-day prison term, a federal judge ruled Sunday, reports Law.com.  Papadopoulos had urged the court to delay the start of his imprisonment pending the outcome of a challenge to the power of special counsel Robert Mueller. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit  heard arguments this month from a grand jury witness who contends the appointment of Mueller was unlawful. Two trial judges have concluded separately that Mueller was lawfully appointed, U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss noted on Sunday.

Papadopoulos, the judge said, failed to show how a ruling from the D.C. Circuit against Mueller would “likely” overturn Papadopoulos’s conviction. In the weeks since his sentencing, Papadopoulos has spoken out publicly against Mueller and hired a new team of lawyers to challenge his conviction. Prosecutors last week urged Moss not to delay the start of the prison term. “Here, as part of a favorable plea agreement, the defendant waived his appeal and did not file a timely notice. The defendant received what he bargained for, and holding him to it is not a hardship,” prosecutors said. Moss said Papadopoulos has only himself to blame for the last-minute push to delay the start of his prison term.

from https://thecrimereport.org