L'Affaire Cohen
December 7, 2018

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office and federal prosecutors from the Southern District of New York both filed sentencing memoranda on Friday for President Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen. Cohen pleaded guilty to eight counts of financial crimes in August and in November pleaded guilty to lying to the Senate Intelligence Committee about discussions to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

The memo from New York prosecutors requested "a substantial term of imprisonment" for Cohen, adding that pleading guilty "does not make him a hero." Mueller's office gave Cohen more credit, however, stating that he had "taken significant steps to mitigate his criminal conduct" by assisting the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. The memo asked his sentence to "give due consideration to the defendant's efforts" to cooperate with the authorities.

You can read the full Southern District of New York memo here, and the memo released by Mueller's office here. Shivani Ishwar

December 7, 2018

Federal prosecutors for the Southern District of New York said in a court filing on Friday that Michael Cohen, President Trump's former personal attorney, should receive a "substantial" prison sentence.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office additionally filed a memo that said Cohen's "crime was serious, both in terms of the underlying conduct and its effect on multiple government investigations."

Cohen pleaded guilty in August to campaign finance violations, and last week, pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the scrapped Trump Tower Moscow project. New York prosecutors said Cohen "sought to undermine core institutions of our democracy," and Mueller's team said his sentence "should reflect the fact that lying to federal investigators has real consequences."

The New York Times reports that Cohen will be sentenced in Manhattan next week in each of his plea deals. He has been cooperating with Mueller's probe into the Trump campaign's involvement with Russian election interference. In the memo from Mueller's office, prosecutors said he "lied to investigators about critical facts, in an investigation of national importance," but "made substantial and significant efforts to remediate his misconduct." While Mueller's office did not recommend a specific amount of prison time, New York prosecutors suggested 51 to 63 months imprisonment may be appropriate. "This range reflects Cohen's extensive, deliberate, and serious criminal conduct," prosecutors wrote. Summer Meza

August 23, 2018

David Pecker, the chairman of National Enquirer publisher American Media Inc., has been given immunity by federal prosecutors who are seeking information about payments arranged by Michael Cohen to women who claimed they had affairs with President Trump, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal on Thursday.

Sources told the Journal earlier this week that Pecker was providing details to federal prosecutors, but he's apparently doing so with the promise of immunity, meaning prosecutors won't seek criminal charges against him if he admits wrongdoing. Pecker reportedly helped facilitate the payments that kept porn star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal from speaking publicly about the alleged relationships ahead of the election, and documents from Cohen's guilty plea show that the payments were made specifically in an effort to "assist" the campaign.

Pecker is a longtime friend of Trump's, who used to publish Trump Style, a quarterly magazine for guests at Trump properties. Now, he's reportedly an important part of the investigation into Cohen, who pleaded guilty to breaking campaign finance laws at the "direction" of Trump. Pecker told prosecutors that "one or more members" of the Trump campaign knew about the payments in advance and reportedly discussed Trump's "knowledge of the deals." Trump was recorded speaking to Cohen about whether to make the payments via cash or check. Read more at The Wall Street Journal. Summer Meza

August 22, 2018

David Pecker, the chairman of National Enquirer publisher American Media Inc., gave federal prosecutors information on payments arranged by Michael Cohen to women who claimed they had sex with President Trump, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.

Pecker also said Trump knew about the deals. Cohen, Trump's former personal attorney, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to eight federal crimes, including tax evasion. In court, Cohen said he was directed by Trump ahead of the 2016 presidential election to pay off two women who said they had sexual encounters with him, in violation of campaign finance laws. Prosecutors said Pecker, a friend of Trump's, offered to keep any negative stories sent to the National Enquirer under wraps.

Last weekend, Cohen's lawyers met with federal prosecutors who revealed they had bank records, tax filings, home loan applications, and testimony from Cohen's accountant and business partners that implicated him and his wife of potential criminal activity, the Journal reports. They said Cohen would face close to 20 criminal counts, and perhaps years in prison.

Cohen, who once declared he'd take a bullet for Trump, said in July he would put his family and country first, not Trump, and the Journal reports that his father, a Holocaust survivor, told him he didn't fight for his life in order to have his name ruined by Trump. Read more about what pushed Cohen to plead guilty at The Wall Street Journal. Catherine Garcia

August 22, 2018

Michael Cohen has been subpoenaed by New York investigators as part of their probe into the Trump Foundation, a spokesman for the state's tax department confirmed to The Associated Press Wednesday.

Cohen, President Trump's former lawyer and fixer, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to financial crimes, and during an interview on CNN, his attorney, Lanny Davis, said Cohen had information about Trump that would "be of interest both in Washington as well as New York state." Investigators are trying to determine if Trump and his charity broke state law or lied about tax liability. Catherine Garcia

August 21, 2018

President Trump's former attorney, Michael Cohen, is negotiating a possible plea deal with federal prosecutors, sources told NBC News on Tuesday.

The potential guilty plea could protect Cohen from some of the fallout from the investigation into whether he committed tax fraud and bank fraud. The plea deal could be made as early as Tuesday, though sources clarified that no deal has been agreed upon yet. It was previously reported that federal prosecutors were considering filing charges against Cohen by the end of August, as the probe enters its final stages.

If Cohen agrees to a plea in the fraud case, "any cooperation agreement would likely extend to other federal investigations," NBC News noted — like Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election interference in 2016. Summer Meza

August 19, 2018

Over the last several months, Michael Cohen's lawyer, Lanny Davis, has been having regular conversations with John Dean, Richard Nixon's White House counsel who took part in the Watergate coverup and then became a witness for the prosecution.

"I reached out to my old friend John Dean because of what he went through with Watergate, and I saw some parallels to what Michael Cohen is experiencing," Davis told Politico. "I wanted to gain from John's wisdom." He added that he's not asking him for legal advice and doesn't want to "raise expectations that Mr. Cohen has anything like the level of deep involvement and detailed knowledge that John Dean had in the Nixon White House as a witness to Nixon's crimes, but I did see some similarities and wanted to learn from what John went through."

Davis said he became friends with Dean in the late 1990s, when they appeared on cable news together to discuss President Bill Clinton's impeachment proceedings. Dean confirmed to Politico that the two have been speaking to each other frequently, and said he'd also like to talk to Cohen's criminal defense lawyer, Guy Petrillo. Catherine Garcia

August 19, 2018

Federal investigators are looking into whether Michael Cohen, President Trump's former lawyer and fixer, committed bank and tax fraud when securing more than $20 million in loans and if he violated campaign finance laws when arranging financial deals with women who said they had affairs with Trump, several people familiar with the matter told The New York Times.

Two people said the probe is in its end stages, and prosecutors are mulling filing charges by the end of August. Investigators are trying to figure out if Cohen misrepresented the value of his assets in order to obtain loans from two banks for his taxi business, and if he failed to report income from that same business to the IRS, the Times reports. Read more about the investigation and what might happen if Cohen decides to take a plea agreement at The New York Times. Catherine Garcia

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