NEW YORK – US federal prosecutors said on Friday that attorney Michael Cohen should serve “substantial” time in prison for tax fraud and campaign finance violations arising from payoffs to two women who claimed to have had affairs with then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Under sentencing guidelines, Cohen could be ordered to spend between 46 and 63 months behind bars after pleading guilty to eight federal offenses.
“After cheating the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) for years, lying to banks and to Congress, and seeking to criminally influence the Presidential election, Cohen’s decision to plead guilty – rather than seek a pardon for his manifold crimes – does not make him a hero,” prosecutors said in a court filing.
The filing acknowledged that Cohen provided “credible and useful” information under his pledge to cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of alleged Russian machinations to help Trump win the 2016 election and of possible coordination between the campaign and Moscow.
Even so, according to prosecutors, Cohen was unwilling to share all the information he had about criminal conduct.
Cohen pleaded guilty last week to a charge brought by Mueller that the lawyer lied when he told a congressional committee that an initiative to build a Trump Tower ended in January 2016, months before the real estate mogul secured the Republican presidential nomination.
The attorney admitted that discussions about the project continued until 2016 and that Trump and members of his family were aware of those contacts.
In a separate court filing on Friday, Mueller said that a Russian national claiming to have influence in Moscow reached out to Cohen in 2015 with an offer of “political synergy” with the Trump campaign.
Judge William Pauley III is set to sentence Cohen on Dec. 12.
Cohen’s attorneys have asked the judge to spare their client jail time, asserting that he has shown “fortitude” by cooperating with the Mueller probe.