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November 29, 2018

Michael Cohen, former lawyer to Prez trump, pleads guilty to lying to Congress

As reported in this AP piece, "Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former lawyer, made a surprise appearance before a federal judge in New York on Thursday to plead guilty to lying to Congress about work he did on an aborted project to build a Trump Tower in Russia." Here is more:

Flanked by his lawyers, Cohen admitted making false statements in 2017 to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence about the project. Cohen told the judge he lied about the timing of the negotiations and other details to be consistent with Trump's "political message."

Cohen and prosecutors referred to Trump as "individual one" throughout Thursday's proceedings and said he lied "to be loyal to Individual One." Among other lies, Cohen said he told Congress that all discussions of the Moscow Trump Tower project ended by January 2016, when they had actually continued until June of that year....

In August, Cohen pleaded guilty to other federal charges involving his taxi businesses, bank fraud and his campaign work for Trump. Reacting to the plea to the new charges, House Speaker Paul Ryan said Cohen "should be prosecuted to the extent of the law. That's why we put people under oath."

Cohen gave a statement to congressional committees last year saying the president's company pursued a project in Moscow during the Republican primary but that the plan was abandoned "for a variety of business reasons." Cohen also said he sent an email to the spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin as part of the potential deal. In his statement, he said that he worked on the real estate proposal with Felix Sater, a Russia-born associate who he said claimed to have deep connections in Moscow.

The discussions about the potential development began after Trump had declared his candidacy. Cohen had said the talks ended when he determined that the project was not feasible. Cohen had also disclosed that Trump was personally aware of the deal, signing a letter of intent and discussing it with Cohen on two other occasions.

As readers may recall and as detailed in this post, Cohen other plea deal from this past summer included an agreement not to challenge any sentence imposed in the range of 46 to 63 months of imprisonment. The folks at Lawfare now have collected here the criminal information, and plea agreement in the latest version of US v. Michael Cohen.  The nine-page plea agreement has lots of sentencing talk but none of that talk is that interesting because the guideline range for this offense seems clearly to be just zero to six months of imprisonment.  Consequently, from a sentencing perspective, it seems that this otherwise notable development is unlikely to significantly change Cohen's sentencing exposure.  And his ultimate sentence is likely to turn on how he cooperates with the Special Counsel team and how that team portrays his cooperation at sentencing.

Prior related posts:

November 29, 2018 at 11:07 AM | Permalink


Looks like quid pro quo between Russia and Trump re election. House of Cards may fall.
Manafort and his attorneys--conspiracy to obstruct justice-. Most corrupt administration in history of the U.S. far surpassing that of Nixon. Let the heads roll.

Posted by: anon1 | Nov 29, 2018 1:18:55 PM

Prof. As you know, this development has ramifications far beyond the sentence.

Posted by: Michael R. Levine | Nov 29, 2018 1:22:41 PM

without question anon1 is correct: the most corrupt administration in U.S. history, and I'm a life-long Republican.

Posted by: anon12 | Nov 29, 2018 2:16:58 PM

I do not disagree, Michael, but I try to stick to sentencing and related criminal justice issues.

Posted by: Doug B. | Nov 29, 2018 3:29:35 PM

Interesting. Isn't the issue that people like Brennan, Comey and Clapper lied to Congress about real things, and no one is prosecuting them.

Posted by: federalist | Dec 1, 2018 2:51:06 PM

Are you urging more prosecutions for lying, federalist, or saying Cohen should not have been pursued on these charges?

Posted by: Doug B | Dec 2, 2018 2:45:10 PM

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