Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney, had sought no jail time in light of his cooperation with the Mueller investigation. But today federal prosecutors denied that request saying he had committed four crimes and deserves a “substantial term of imprisonment.” From Fox News:
Friday’s recommendation denies Cohen’s request of “no jail time” and instead calls for “a substantial term of imprisonment” come sentencing day on Dec. 12.
“Cohen, an attorney and businessman, committed four distinct federal crimes over a period of several years. He was motivated to do so by personal greed, and repeatedly used his power and influence for deceptive ends. Now he seeks extraordinary leniency – a sentence of no jail time,” according to the memo.
“The Office respectfully requests that this Court impose a substantial term of imprisonment, one that reflects a modest variance from the applicable Guidelines range. The Office also requests that the Court impose forfeiture in the amount of $500,000, and a fine.”
CNN adds that Cohen may be facing up to five years, though the judge can make his own decision:
In its filing, Mueller’s office says that Cohen took “significant steps” to help the investigation and has accepted responsibility for his crimes. It argues any sentence he serves should run concurrently…
The Cohen cases are being considered together for sentencing purposes. In the New York federal case, the stipulated guideline range of Cohen’s prison term is between 46 and 63 months with a range of fines of between $20,000 and $1 million, although that was determined before Cohen had received a cooperation agreement from the special counsel’s office.
The judge can deviate from the guidelines when he determines Cohen’s sentence.
But the big question many people are asking isn’t what this means for Cohen but what it may mean for President Trump. On that count, this is the first time prosecutors have said Trump directed Cohen to commit campaign finance violations, though we already knew that Cohen had made that claim back in August:
If I am reading the Govt filing correctly, it says Cohen committed campaign finance violations at the “direction” of President Trump.
That means they are saying Trump committed a felony.
And the memo goes on to explain how serious the felony is to the integrity of our system
— Neal Katyal (@neal_katyal) December 7, 2018
This is new. Federal prosecutors have said for the first time in a court filing that Cohen committed campaign finance crimes "in coordination with and at the direction of" President Trump. pic.twitter.com/mOYvdMqHS7
— Brad Heath (@bradheath) December 7, 2018
What does this mean for Trump? Gabe Malor says nothing at least so long as Trump remains in office:
Yes, they can. Longstanding DOJ understanding (40+ years) is that sitting presidents cannot be indicted on the theory that it would unconstitutionally restrain a branch of government from carrying out mandatory duties. https://t.co/G2LZnXx85B
— Gabriel Malor (@gabrielmalor) December 7, 2018
Of course, this could still serve as grounds for impeachment, which is something I suspect Democrats will be talking about over the weekend. There’s also the question of collusion. This bit from Mueller suggest something like it (“political synergy”) it was on offer in 2015, but notice the last line:
Mueller filing says a Russian national claiming to be a "trusted person" in the Russian Federation contacted Cohen in Nov. 2015 offering the Trump campaign "political synergy" and "synergy on a government level" pic.twitter.com/2ZV8FAPMlw
— Philip Rucker (@PhilipRucker) December 7, 2018
Finally, this appears to be Trump’s initial response to the Cohen material but this is all there is of it so it’s a bit hard to tell.
Totally clears the President. Thank you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 7, 2018