Prosecutors: Michael Cohen acted at Trump’s direction when he broke the law

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 21: Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former personal attorney and fixer, exits federal court, August 21, 2018 in New York City. Cohen reached an agreement with prosecutors, pleading guilty to charges involving bank fraud, tax fraud and campaign finance violations. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

New York (CNN)Federal prosecutors said for the first time Friday that Michael Cohen acted at the direction of Donald Trump when the former fixer committed two election-related crimes during the 2016 presidential campaign, as special counsel Robert Mueller outlined a previously undisclosed set of overtures and contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian nationals.

Those revelations came in a set of court filings in which federal prosecutors in New York said Cohen should receive a “substantial” prison sentence of roughly four years for tax fraud and campaign-finance crimes, and as Mueller’s office accused the President’s former attorney of lying about his contacts with Russia.

Mueller’s disclosures also exposed deeper entanglements than previously known between Trump, his campaign apparatus and the Russian government, including that a Russian national who claimed to be well-connected in Moscow spoke with Cohen in 2015 and offered “political synergy” with the Trump campaign.

Mueller: Paul Manafort lied about contacts with Trump administration this year
Mueller: Paul Manafort lied about contacts with Trump administration this year

The pair of memos from two sets of prosecutors reflected competing views of Cohen’s utility to the federal investigations ahead of his scheduled sentencing on Wednesday.

Prosecutors added, “In particular, and as Cohen himself has now admitted, with respect to both payments, he acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1.” Individual-1 is the term prosecutors have been using to refer to the President.

In their filing, prosecutors from the Manhattan US attorney’s office knocked Cohen’s “rose-colored view of the seriousness of his crimes,” noting his years-long willingness to break the law. “He was motivated to do so by personal greed, and repeatedly used his power and influence for deceptive ends,” they wrote in a filing that also sought to puncture Cohen’s public pronouncements of assistance in their investigations.

Mueller’s team acknowledged that Cohen provided “useful information concerning certain discrete Russia-related matters core to its investigation,” but also disclosed that he had initially lied to them about a proposed Trump Tower project in Moscow.

In August, Cohen pleaded guilty to eight federal crimes after being charged by Manhattan federal prosecutors. Those included tax fraud, making false statements to a bank and campaign-finance violations tied to his work for Trump, including payments Cohen made or helped orchestrate that were designed to silence women who claimed affairs with the then-presidential candidate. Trump has denied those claims.

How Trump Tower Moscow fits into Russian interference interactive link
Related: How Trump Tower Moscow fits into Russian interference

Cohen was subsequently charged last week by the special counsel’s office with one count of lying to Congress about the Moscow project. He pleaded guilty, disclosing that talks about the effort in Moscow had extended through June 2016, after Trump had become the presumptive Republican nominee for president, and that both Trump and his family members had been briefed on the discussions. Cohen also acknowledged pursuing plans to send Trump and himself to Russia in service of the project and discussing the proposed development directly with a representative of the Kremlin.

The special counsel’s Friday memo on the matter suggested that Cohen’s — and, by extension, Trump’s…

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