MANHATTAN (CN) – Rejecting Michael Cohen's “rose-color view” of his cooperation with the Russia probe, federal prosecutors recommended Friday that President Donald Trump’s former lawyer receive a "substantial" prison term – noting that probation officers asked for 42 months.
“After cheating the IRS for years, lying to banks and to Congress, and seeking to criminally influence the presidential election, Cohen’s decision to plead guilty – rather than seek a pardon for his manifold crimes – does not make him a hero,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicolas Roos wrote in a blistering 40-page brief.
Cohen’s legal team requested a non-jail sentence for his guilty pleas to tax evasion, campaign finance offenses and perjury one week ago, a position that both Trump and federal prosecutors agree would be far too light.
“Now he seeks extraordinary leniency – a sentence of no jail time – 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,” the brief continues. “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 (and was evidently hidden from the friends and family members who wrote on his behalf).” (Parentheses in original.)
In a separate brief filed minutes later, Special Counsel Robert Mueller wrote that Cohen had been cooperative – to an extent.
Mueller said that Cohen took the first step of requesting a meeting with his office, only to lie to him at the huddle.
“In that meeting, Cohen voluntarily provided information relevant to other aspects of the SCO’s ongoing investigation, but when asked questions about the Moscow Project, Cohen provided false answers in what he later explained was an effort not to contradict his congressional testimony,” Mueller wrote in a footnote, using an abbreviation for Special Counsel’s Office.
Both memos offer new details implicating Trump in Cohen’s crimes prosecuted both out of New York and Washington.
'Synergy on a Government Level'
In his surprise guilty plea last week, Cohen admitted that he misled House and Senate investigators about negotiations between Trump and Putin’s inner circles about a Moscow real estate deal that extended deep into the 2016 presidential campaign.
Despite previously telling Congress that talks fizzled out in January, Cohen admitted to a federal judge last week that this was a lie that he told “out of loyalty” to Trump.
“By publicly presenting this false narrative, the defendant deliberately shifted the timeline of what had occurred in the hopes of limiting the investigations into possible Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election — an issue of heightened national interest,” Mueller wrote.
“The defendant’s false statements obscured the fact that the Moscow Project was a lucrative business opportunity that sought, and likely required, the assistance of the Russian government,” his brief continues. “If the project was completed, the Company could have received hundreds of millions of dollars from Russian sources in licensing fees and other revenues.”