Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Court deadlines set stage for more Russia probe details

Court deadlines set stage for more Russia probe details Court deadlines set stage for more Russia probe details
Melinda Barton | 08 December, 2018, 23:58

Court filings from prosecutors in NY and special counsel Robert Mueller's office Friday laid out previously undisclosed contacts between Trump associates and Russian intermediaries and suggested the Kremlin aimed early on to influence Trump and his campaign by playing to both his political aspirations and his personal business interests.

In meetings with Mueller's team, Cohen "provided information about his own contacts with Russian interests during the campaign and discussions with others in the course of making those contacts", the court documents said.

Trump was undeterred, tweeting early Saturday: "AFTER TWO YEARS AND MILLIONS OF PAGES OF DOCUMENTS (and a cost of over $30,000,000), NO COLLUSION!"

Trump's spokeswoman Sarah Sanders dismissed the latest filings in Cohen's case, saying they "tell us nothing of value that wasn't already known".

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 Russian Federation to get reduced jail time.

In hours of meetings with prosecutors, Cohen detailed his intimate involvement in an array of episodes, including some that directly touch the president, that are at the center of investigations into campaign finance violations and potential collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

In November 2015, Cohen spoke with a Russian national who said he could offer the campaign "political synergy" with Russia and repeatedly proposed a meeting with Putin.

"The person told Cohen that such a meeting could have a "phenomenal" impact 'not only in political but in a business dimension as well'".

A heavily redacted court filing said that Manafort's "lies" included untruths about his dealings with Konstantin Kilimnik, a business associate who United States officials suspect is a Russian intelligence operative, and about his contacts with Trump administration officials after striking a plea agreement.

In Friday's court filing, the Justice Department threw its weight behind Cohen's claim he was acting on Trump's orders, claiming the payments were made in "coordination with and the direction of" Trump, named in the documents as "individual 1".

Manafort, who has pleaded guilty to several counts, violated his plea agreement by then telling "multiple discernible lies" to prosecutors, they said.

Manafort resigned from his job on the Trump campaign as questions swirled about his lobbying work for a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine.

Cohen had asked for a sentence of no prison time, citing his cooperation. "But Cohen's description of those efforts is overstated in some respects and incomplete in others".

Federal prosecutors are recommending that former Donald Trump lawyer Michael Cohen serve a "substantial" prison sentence (around four years) for his eight tax fraud and campaign violation crimes, according to a memo released today.

It was the first time the feds directly linked Trump to hush- money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal - a fact noted by former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti. The court filing Friday makes clear that the payments were made to benefit Trump politically.

U.S. prosecutors have revealed that a Russian offered cooperation to Donald Trump's campaign as early as 2015, declaring that the president's ex-lawyer Michael Cohen had provided "relevant" and "substantial" help to the Russia investigation.

Trump denied the claims and called both Mueller's team and the federal prosecutors liars.