Michael Cohen deserves substantial prison time, prosecutors say

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U.S. President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort lied to federal investigators about a payment and contacts with Trump administration officials, the U.S. special counsel investigating whether Trump's 2016 campaign colluded with Russian Federation said in a court filing on Friday.

The filing does not name Trump, but refers to an "Individual 1" that it says Cohen "acted in coordination with and at the direction of" in giving payments to silence adult film actor Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, who claimed they had affairs with Trump before the 2016 election. Nonetheless, neither Special Counsel Robert Mueller nor USA attorneys have signaled in any way whether charges might be brought against Trump.

The sentencing memo described information Cohen had provided since abandoning Trump and assisting with the government's investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 USA election and possible collusion with Trump's team. And Mueller's team will also be disclosing what they say former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort lied about when his plea deal fell apart last month.

"In total, the prosecutors seem to be saying the president was more aware than he has claimed to be", former federal prosecutor Michael Zeldin said.

Mueller's filing did, however, acknowledge Cohen's help in the Russia investigation and also said that he has provided information about new contacts between Trump's presidential campaign and Russians, including outreach as early as November 2015 from people seeking to arrange meetings between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

He said the most likely result of the Mueller probe is a long report that tries to piece together a "mosaic" that shows Trump committed "political sin, but not federal crime".

One defendant, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, provided so much information to prosecutors that Mueller this week said he shouldn't serve any prison time.

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They also suggest Trump and his family were in the loop on discussions with Russians on a Moscow project, even after the real estate tycoon secured the Republican nomination in mid-2016.

The filings also exposed lies told by Manafort during interviews with prosecutors and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

In Manafort's case, prosecutors are expected to lay out what torpedoed the cooperation agreement he made when he pleaded guilty in September to two felony charges of conspiracy.

Cohen wanted to obscure from Congress and the public that if the project had been completed, Trump's company "could have received hundreds of millions of dollars from Russian sources in licensing fees and other revenues", prosecutors wrote.

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". Though Cohen had previously implicated Trump in the payments, the prosecutors now are linking Trump to the scheme and backing up Cohen's allegations. It never took place.

Mueller said on Friday that Cohen repeated his false statements about the project in his first meeting with Mueller's office, admitting the truth only in a later meeting in September after he had pleaded guilty to the separate NY charges.

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