Trump campaign offered ‘political synergy’ by Russia as early as 2015, Michael Cohen told prosecutors

The Trump campaign was offered “political synergy” from Russia as early as 2015, according to evidence provided by the president’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.

In one of two sentencing documents filed by prosecutors in relation to Cohen, who has pleaded guilty to two separate charges, prosecutors revealed the 52-year-old said he was contacted by someone claiming to represent the Russian authorities.

“In or around November 2015, Cohen received the contact information for, and spoke with, a Russian national who claimed to be a ‘trusted person’ in the Russian Federation who could offer the campaign ‘political synergy’ and ‘synergy on a government level’,” said a filing by special counsel Robert Mueller.

The individual “repeatedly proposed a meeting between Individual 1 [Donald Trump] and the president of Russia”. The Russian national suggested that such a meeting could have “phenomenal impact” not only in political but in a business dimension as well, the document said.

The document filed by Mr Mueller suggests that Cohen has provided substantial information to the special counsel’s office. Mr Mueller said Cohen went to “significant lengths” to assist their investigation.

“The defendant has provided, and has committed to continue to provide, relevant and truthful information to the SCO in an effort to assist with the investigation.The defendant has met with the SCO for seven proffer sessions, many of them lengthy, and continues to make himself available to investigators,” he wrote.

Mr Mueller said Mr Cohen had assisted in four specific areas – providing information about his own contacts with Russian interests during the campaign, providing information concerning certain “discrete Russia-related matters” core to the investigation, giving information concerning his contacts with persons connected to the White House during the 2017–2018 time period and describing the circumstances of preparing and circulating his response to the congressional enquiries.

Donald Trump denies involvement in Moscow project claiming Michael Cohen ‘lying’

“The defendant’s crime was serious, both in terms of the underlying conduct and its effect on multiple government investigations,” said Mr Mueller.

“The sentence imposed should reflect the fact that lying to federal investigators has real consequences, especially where the defendant lied to investigators about critical facts, in an investigation of national importance.”

Cohen has pleaded guilty to federal charges, including lying to congress about negotiations he had on Trump’s behalf for a real estate deal in Moscow – something referred to in the court papers at the “Moscow Project”.

In a separate document filed by investigators looking into Cohen’s payment of hush money to Stormy Daniels and other women on the eve of the 2016 election, prosecutors said the lawyer had not been cooperative and deserved to serve a “substantial amount of jail time”.

“Cohen did provide information to law enforcement, including information that assisted the special counsel’s office (SCO) in ongoing matters, as described in the SCO’s memorandum to the court, and the office agrees that this is a factor to be considered by the court,” wrote prosecutors in New York.

“But Cohen’s description of those efforts is overstated in some respects and incomplete in others. To be clear: Cohen does not have a cooperation agreement…and therefore is not properly described as a “cooperating witness”, as that term is commonly used in this district.”

It added: “While the office agrees that Cohen should receive credit for his assistance in the SCO investigation, that credit should not approximate the credit a traditional cooperating witness would receive, given, among other reasons, Cohen’s affirmative decision not to become one. For these reasons, the office respectfully requests that this court impose a substantial term of imprisonment.”

Trump, who has called Mueller’s investigation a “witch hunt“ and repeatedly denied wrongdoing, said earlier this week that Cohen had lied about Trump’s business dealings in Russia to get reduced jail time.

He also claimed in a tweet that the Cohen filing “totally clears the president”, though the document said he had directed his former lawyer to make the hush money payments.

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