Lawyers for former Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen argued Friday that their client should not go to prison for the criminal charges to which he has pleaded guilty, and linked much of his wrongdoing to his desire to protect and support President Trump.
In a late-night court filing, lawyers for the onetime Trump loyalist wrote that their client was a changed man who was eager to share his knowledge with law enforcement and mindful that he would have to “begin his life virtually anew.”
Their filing detailed what they said was Cohen’s extensive cooperation, including seven voluntary interviews with the team of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, as well as meetings with federal prosecutors in New York, representatives of the New York attorney general’s office and officials with the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, which are conducting wide-ranging probes into Trump’s campaign and his charitable foundation.
Friday’s filing directly connected Cohen’s wrongdoing to Trump. Cohen’s lawyers asserted, for example, that Cohen paid off women to keep quiet about alleged affairs with the president to stop them from “disseminating narratives that would adversely affect the Campaign and cause personal embarrassment.” And they said Cohen lied about efforts to finalize a Trump business project in Moscow during the heart of the campaign because he knew it was Trump’s “strongly voiced mantra” to minimize the investigation into connections between his campaign and the Kremlin.
Trump has repeatedly said he had no business dealings in Russia, tweeting in July 2016, “For the record, I have ZERO investments in Russia,” and telling reporters in January 2017 that he had no deals there because he had “stayed away.”
In fact, lawyers for Cohen alleged that he talked with a Russian official about a project there in January 2016 and had other, unspecified communications that continued as late as June 2016. They alleged Cohen kept Trump in the loop, and Trump and Cohen discussed the possibility of travel to Russia in the summer of 2016, with Cohen even taking steps to clear dates. That would have been just as Trump was clinching his party’s presidential nomination.