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Trump KNEW in advance about Michael Cohen's bid to set up meeting with Putin



Trump KNEW in advance about Michael Cohen's bid to set up New York meeting with Putin in 2015 - the same year 'trusted Russian' offered 'political synergy' to Trump campaign

  • Memo from Robert Mueller and federal prosecutors reveals how Michael Cohen tried to act as a 'fixer' for Trump in his dealings with Moscow 
  • Cohen tried to set up a meeting between Trump and Putin at the United Nations General Assembly in New York in 2015 
  • He then claimed Trump knew nothing about it in testimony to Congress - but that was a lie and he had told his boss about the attempt in advance 
  • Cohen also met with a 'trusted person' in Russia to try to get 'political synergy' between campaign and Kremlin - and talked Trump property deals 
  • Despite web of connections Trump tweeted that Cohen memos 'clear' him   

By Associated Press and Afp

Published: 01:15 EST, 7 December 2018 | Updated: 21:47 EST, 7 December 2018

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President Donald Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, was in touch as far back as 2015 with a Russian who offered 'political synergy' with the Trump election campaign, the federal special counsel said Friday in a court filing.

Filings by prosecutors from both New York and the Trump-Russia special counsel's office laid out for the first time details of the cooperation of Cohen, a vital witness who once said he'd 'take a bullet' for the president but who in recent months has become a prime antagonist and pledged to come clean with the government.

Federal prosecutors said Friday that Cohen deserves a substantial prison sentence despite his cooperation with investigators. He is to be sentenced next week, and may face several years in prison.

Real meeting: This was the scene when Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump sat down for the first time at the G20 in Hamburg in 2017. But Michael Cohen wanted to get them together two years before that - and lied to Congress when he said Trump knew noting in advance about the failed attempt
Real meeting: This was the scene when Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump sat down for the first time at the G20 in Hamburg in 2017. But Michael Cohen wanted to get them together two years before that - and lied to Congress when he said Trump knew noting in advance about the failed attempt

Real meeting: This was the scene when Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump sat down for the first time at the G20 in Hamburg in 2017. But Michael Cohen wanted to get them together two years before that - and lied to Congress when he said Trump knew noting in advance about the failed attempt

In his sights: Robert Mueller offered no recommendation on how long Michael Cohen should spend in prison but federal prosecutors in New York did - saying he should be locked up for between four and five years
In his sights: Robert Mueller offered no recommendation on how long Michael Cohen should spend in prison but federal prosecutors in New York did - saying he should be locked up for between four and five years
In his sights: Robert Mueller offered no recommendation on how long Michael Cohen should spend in prison but federal prosecutors in New York did - saying he should be locked up for between four and five years
In his sights: Robert Mueller offered no recommendation on how long Michael Cohen should spend in prison but federal prosecutors in New York did - saying he should be locked up for between four and five years

In his sights: Robert Mueller offered no recommendation on how long Michael Cohen should spend in prison but federal prosecutors in New York did - saying he should be locked up for between four and five years

Trump tweeted barely an hour after prosecutors filed their court statement about Cohen that it 'totally clears' him
Trump tweeted barely an hour after prosecutors filed their court statement about Cohen that it 'totally clears' him

Trump tweeted barely an hour after prosecutors filed their court statement about Cohen that it 'totally clears' him

HOW MUELLER REVEALED TRUMP'S KNOWLEDGE OF PUTIN MEETING PLAN 

Robert Mueller tucked the revelation of Trump's advance knowledge of a bid to meet the Russian leader in 2015 into a footnote in his memo to the federal judge. It said: 

The defendant, without prompting by the SCO, also corrected other false and misleading statements that he had made concerning his outreach to and contacts with Russian officials during the course of the campaign. 

For example, in a radio interview in September 2015, the defendant suggested that Individual 1 [Trump]  meet with the President of Russia in New York City during his visit for the United Nations General Assembly. 

When asked previously about these events, the defendant claimed his public comments had been spontaneous and had not been discussed within the campaign or the Company [The Trump Organization]. 

During his proffer sessions, the defendant admitted that this account was false and that he had in fact conferred with Individual 1 about contacting the Russian government before reaching out to gauge Russia’s interest in such a meeting. 

The meeting did not take place.

 

In hours of meetings with prosecutors, Cohen detailed his intimate involvement in an array of episodes, including some that directly touch the president, that are at the center of investigations into campaign finance violations and potential collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.   

In one of the filings, Mueller details how around November 2015, some five months after Trump launched his bid for the presidency and well before previously reported contacts, Cohen spoke to a purported 'trusted person' in the Russian Federation who offered the campaign 'political synergy' and 'synergy on a government level.'

Cohen said the person 'repeatedly proposed' a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, claiming it could have a 'phenomenal' impact 'not only in political but in a business dimension as well'.

'Cohen, however, did not follow up on this invitation,' the filing added.  

In an additional filing Friday evening, prosecutors said former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort lied to them about his contacts with a Russian associate and Trump administration officials.

Manafort, who has pleaded guilty to several counts, violated his plea agreement by then telling 'multiple discernible lies' to prosecutors, they said.

Cohen also discussed a Moscow real estate deal that could have netted Trump's business hundreds of millions of dollars and conversations with a Russian intermediary who proposed a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin as well as offering synergy with the campaign, prosecutors said.

Cohen, dubbed Trump's 'legal fixer' in the past, also described his work in conjunction with Trump in orchestrating hush money payments to two women - a porn star and a Playboy model - who said they had sex with Trump a decade earlier. Prosecutors in New York, where Cohen pleaded guilty in August in connection with those payments, said the lawyer 'acted in coordination and at the direction' of Trump.

Despite such specific allegations of Trump's actions, the president quickly tweeted after news of the filings: 'Totally clears the President. Thank you!'

The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York wrote that Cohen worked at the direction of President Donald Trump in 2016 to arrange payments to two women for the purpose of keeping their sexual affair allegations from becoming public before the election

The Michael Cohen sentencing memorandum from a federal prosecutor in New York recomments 51 to 63 months in prison
The Michael Cohen sentencing memorandum from a federal prosecutor in New York recomments 51 to 63 months in prison

The Michael Cohen sentencing memorandum from a federal prosecutor in New York recomments 51 to 63 months in prison

Later, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in two statements that the Manafort filing 'says absolutely nothing about the President' and the Cohen filings 'tell us nothing of value that wasn't already known.'

Cohen also told prosecutors that he and Trump discussed a potential meeting with Putin on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in 2015, shortly after Trump announced his candidacy for president, the filings say.

In a footnote, special counsel Robert Mueller's team writes that Cohen conferred with Trump 'about contacting the Russia government before reaching out to gauge Russia's interest in such a meeting,' though it never took place.

In an additional filing Friday evening, prosecutors said former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort lied to them about his contacts with a Russian associate and Trump administration officials.

Manafort, who has pleaded guilty to several counts, violated his plea agreement by then telling 'multiple discernible lies' to prosecutors, they said.

Prosecutors in Cohen's case said that even though he cooperated in their investigation into the hush money payments to women he nonetheless deserved to spend time in prison.

'Cohen did provide information to law enforcement, including information that assisted the Special Counsel's Office,' they said. 'But Cohen's description of those efforts is overstated in some respects and incomplete in others.'

In meetings with Mueller's team, Cohen 'provided information about his own contacts with Russian interests during the campaign and discussions with others in the course of making those contacts,' the court documents said.

Cohen provided prosecutors with a 'detailed account' of his involvement, along with the involvement of others, in efforts during the 2016 presidential campaign to complete a deal to build a Trump Tower Moscow, the documents said. He also provided information about attempts by Russian nationals to reach Trump's campaign, they said.

However, in the crimes to which he pleaded guilty in August, he was motivated 'by personal greed and repeatedly used his power and influence for deceptive ends.'

Prosecutors said the court's Probation Department estimated that federal sentencing guidelines call for Cohen to serve at least four years in prison. They said that 'reflects Cohen's extensive, deliberate and serious criminal conduct.'

Prosecutors say Cohen 'already enjoyed a privileged life,' and that 'his desire for even greater wealth and influence precipitated an extensive course of criminal conduct.'

ROBERT MUELLER'S PROBE SO FAR: EIGHT CONVICTIONS - INCLUDING THREE TOP TRUMP AIDES, A JAILED ATTORNEY AND 25 RUSSIANS ACCUSED

GUILTY: MICHAEL FLYNN 

Pleaded guilty to making false statements in December 2017. Awaiting sentence

Flynn was President Trump's former National Security Advisor and Robert Mueller's most senior scalp to date. He previously served when he was a three star general as President Obama's director of the Defense Intelligence Agency but was fired. 

He admitted to lying to special counsel investigators about his conversations with a Russian ambassador in December 2016. He has agreed to cooperate with the special counsel investigation.

GUILTY: MICHAEL COHEN

Pleaded guilty to eight counts including fraud and two campaign finance violations in August 2018. Pleaded guilty to further count of lying to Congress in November 2018. Awaiting sentence

Cohen was Trump's longtime personal attorney, starting working for him and the Trump Organization in 2007. He is the longest-serving member of Trump's inner circle to be implicated by Mueller. Cohen professed unswerving devotion to Trump - and organized payments to silence two women who alleged they had sex with the-then candidate: porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal.He admitted that payments to both women were felony campaign finance violations - and admitted that he acted at the 'direction' of 'Candidate-1': Donald Trump.

He also admitted tax fraud by lying about his income from loans he made, money from  taxi medallions he owned, and other sources of income, at a cost to the Treasury of $1.3 million.

Campaign role: Paul Manafort chaired Trump's campaign for four months - which included the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in 2016, where he appeared on stage beside Trump who was preparing  to formally accept the Republican nomination
Campaign role: Paul Manafort chaired Trump's campaign for four months - which included the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in 2016, where he appeared on stage beside Trump who was preparing  to formally accept the Republican nomination

GUILTY: PAUL MANAFORT

Found guilty of eight charges of bank and tax fraud in August 2018. Pleaded guilty to two further charges. Awaiting sentence

Manafort worked for Trump's campaign from March 2016 and chaired it from June to August 2016, overseeing Trump being adopted as Republican candidate at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. He is the most senior campaign official to be implicated by Mueller. Manafort was one of Washington D.C.'s longest-term and most influential lobbyists but in 2015, his money dried up and the next year he turned to Trump for help, offering to be his campaign chairman for free - in the hope of making more money afterwards. But Mueller unwound his previous finances and discovered years of tax and bank fraud as he coined in cash from pro-Russia political parties and oligarchs in Ukraine.

Manafort pleaded not guilty to 18 charges of tax and bank fraud but was convicted of eight counts. The jury was deadlocked on the other 10 charges. A second trial on charges of failing to register as a foreign agent is due in September.  

GUILTY: RICK GATES 

Pleaded guilty to conspiracy against the United States and making false statements in February 2018. Awaiting sentence

Gates was Manafort's former deputy at political consulting firm DMP International. He admitted to conspiring to defraud the U.S. government on financial activity, and to lying to investigators about a meeting Manafort had with a member of congress in 2013. As a result of his guilty plea and promise of cooperation, prosecutors vacated charges against Gates on bank fraud, bank fraud conspiracy, failure to disclose foreign bank accounts, filing false tax returns, helping prepare false tax filings, and falsely amending tax returns.

GUILTY AND WILL BE JAILED: GEORGE PAPADOPOLOUS

Pleaded guilty to making false statements in October 2017. Sentenced to 14 days in September 2018, to be served at a later date

Papadopoulos was a member of Donald Trump's campaign foreign policy advisory committee. He admitted to lying to special counsel investigators about his contacts with London professor Josef Mifsud and Ivan Timofeev, the director of a Russian government-funded think tank. 

He has agreed to cooperate with the special counsel investigation.

GUILTY AND JAILED: RICHARD PINEDO

Pleaded guilty to identity fraud in February 2018. Sentenced to a year in prison

Pinedo is a 28-year-old computer specialist from Santa Paula, California. He admitted to selling bank account numbers to Russian nationals over the internet that he had obtained using stolen identities. 

He has agreed to cooperate with the special counsel investigation.

GUILTY AND JAILED: ALEX VAN DER ZWAAN

Pleaded guilty to making false statements in February 2018. He served a 30-day prison sentence earlier this year and was deported to the Netherlands upon his release.

Van der Zwaan is a Dutch attorney for Skadden Arps who worked on a Ukrainian political analysis report for Paul Manafort in 2012. 

He admitted to lying to special counsel investigators about when he last spoke with Rick Gates and Konstantin Kilimnik.

GUILTY:  W. SAMUEL PATTEN

Pleaded guilty in August 2018 to failing to register as a lobbyist while doing work for a Ukrainian political party. Awaiting sentence.

Patten, a long-time D.C. lobbyist was a business partner of Paul Manafort. He pleaded guilty to admitting to arranging an illegal $50,000 donation to Trump's inauguration.

He arranged for an American 'straw donor' to pay $50,000 to the inaugural committee, knowing that it was actually for a Ukrainian businessman.

Neither the American or the Ukrainian have been named.   

CHARGED: KONSTANTIN KILIMNIK

Indicted for obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice. 

Kilimnik is a former employee of Manafort's political consulting firm and helped him with lobbying work in Ukraine. He is accused of witness tampering, after he allegedly contacted individuals who had worked with Manafort to remind them that Manafort only performed lobbying work for them outside of the U.S.

He has been linked to  Russian intelligence and is currently thought to be in Russia - effectively beyond the reach of extradition by Mueller's team.

INDICTED: THE RUSSIANS 

Twenty-five Russian nationals and three Russian entities have been indicted for conspiracy to defraud the United States. 

Two of these Russian nationals were also indicted for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and 11 were indicted for conspiracy to launder money. Fifteen of them were also indicted for identity fraud. 

Vladimir Putin has ridiculed the charges. Russia effectively bars extradition of its nationals. The only prospect Mueller has of bringing any in front of a U.S. jury is if Interpol has their names on an international stop list - which is not made public - and they set foot in a territory which extradites to the U.S. 

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