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Prosecutors Recommend ‘Substantial’ Prison Sentence For Michael Cohen

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Federal prosecutors in Manhattan recommended on Friday a “substantial” prison sentence for Michael Cohen, the former Trump attorney who pleaded guilty in August to tax evasion, bank fraud and illegal campaign contributions.

Cohen, 52, was seeking a sentence of time served in the case, citing the former Trump fixer’s substantial cooperation with investigators in New York and in the special counsel’s office.

But in their filing on Friday, prosecutors asserted that Cohen’s “pattern of deception” throughout his professional life warrants a hefty prison sentence. The government did open the door to some leniency for Cohen, writing that Cohen’s sentence should “reflect a modest downward variance” from the 51 to 63-month sentence recommended by federal guidelines.

Cohen entered a plea deal with federal prosecutors on Aug. 21 on charges of tax evasion and bank fraud related to his taxi medallion business. He also pleaded guilty to making illegal campaign contributions by paying off Stormy Daniels, the porn star who alleges having an affair with Trump in 2016.

Cohen said that Trump instructed him to make a $130,000 hush payment to Daniels in October 2016.

Cohen’s attorneys argued in a court filing on Saturday that their client should receive no jail time due to his extensive cooperation with Mueller’s team and other prosecutors. They said that he has met voluntarily with the special counsel seven times since August and twice with prosecutors in New York. Cohen has also met with the New York Attorney General’s office, they said.

Cohen also pleaded guilty last Thursday to lying to Congress last year in an investigation being led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Cohen admitted that he lied to Congress when he testified last year that he stopped pursuing the project in January 2016 and that he did not entertain the idea of either himself or Trump visiting Russia. But in his plea, Cohen admitted that he continued working to secure a deal for Trump Tower through June 2016. He also acknowledged that he made plans to visit Russia, but backed out after Trump won the GOP nomination.

Cohen also revealed that he had more extensive contacts with the Kremlin that he previously acknowledged. The longtime Trump fixer initially said that he sent an email to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. But he now admits that he had a 20-minute phone conversation with Peskov’s chief of staff.

Cohen has not alleged that he was instructed to lie to Congress about his involvement in the Trump Tower project. Instead, he said that he tailored his testimony to Trump and the White House’s public denials regarding links to Russia.

Whether Cohen has information about election interference remains an open question. He is a central figure in the Steele dossier, which accuses Cohen of visiting Prague in August 2016 to pay off Russia-linked hackers who stole emails from the Democratic National Committee.

Cohen had vehemently denied the dossier’s allegations, though he has not publicly commented on the matter since the end of June. But Lanny Davis, a lawyer for Cohen and close ally of the Clintons, said shortly after Cohen’s plea deal in August that the dossier’s allegations about his client are “false.”

Davis said that Cohen did not visit Prague, as the dossier alleged.

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