Published: Sun, December 09, 2018
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

Prosecutors Expose Trump Hush Money Payments, Russian Contacts

Prosecutors Expose Trump Hush Money Payments, Russian Contacts

President Donald Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani said Saturday that Friday's court filings in the Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen cases showed no collusion between the 2016 Trump presidential campaign and Russian Federation.

Federal prosecutors filed new court papers Friday directly implicating President Donald Trump in plans to buy women's silence as far back as 2014 and offering new evidence of Russian efforts to forge a political alliance with Trump before he became president.

Prosecutors working for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of NY based in Manhattan asked a judge to impose a sentence that reflects a "modest downward variance" from the potential maximum of 63 months in prison that Cohen faces.

Cohen had in August pleaded guilty to several charges related to tax evasion, lying to banks, and campaign finance fraud, and stated in court he had coordinated on campaign-finance felonies with a political candidate that could only have been the president, and who he later identified as Trump.

The Special Counsel referred his investigation of Michael Cohen in part to the Southern District of NY.

Filings by prosecutors from both NY 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. Trump singled out Cohen, accusing him of lying to get a reduced prison sentence.

He had provided information about contacts with Russian interests during the campaign, attempts by Russians to reach the campaign and about contacts with "persons connected to the White House" in 2017-2018, the filing added.

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

The situation is complicated by the fact that Mr Trump, who has railed against the "witch hunt, recently sacked his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, and replaced him with an arch critic of the Mueller probe, Matthew Whitaker".

Donald Trump coordinated with Michael Cohen to commit federal campaign fraud, prosecutors state in a sentencing memo filed December 7 advising a substantial prison term for crimes to which Cohen has pleaded guilty.

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 court papers say Manafort initially told prosecutors he didn't have contact with any people while they were in the Trump administration.

The White House similarly dismissed that filing, arguing it "says absolutely nothing about the President". Though he has portrayed himself as cooperative, "his description of those efforts is overstated in some respects and incomplete in others", prosecutors said. But the NY prosecutors were unsparing in their descriptions of his conduct, saying he was motivated by "personal greed" and that he "repeatedly used his power and influence for deceptive ends".

Manhattan prosecutors said in their sentencing filing that Cohen committed campaign-finance crimes "in coordination with and at the direction of Individual 1".

The meeting didn't take place.

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