BREAKING NEWS - December 17 2018
As the Mueller investigation progresses, the focus has shifted to president Donald Trump's former lawyer, Micheal Cohen. On Friday, December 7th, 2018, sentencing memos were released by both the offices of the United States District Attorney for the Southern District of New York and the office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. In these memos, Cohen is recommended for 51-63 months of federal prison time after he pled guilty to charges including tax evasion, making false statements to Congress, and making an excessive campaign contribution.
The Special Counsel investigation (also called the Mueller investigation) is an ongoing effort by United States intelligence agencies to examine Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. This investigation is headed by Robert Mueller, a former FBI director. So far, the investigation has produced dozens of indictments for federal crimes, and at least eight guilty pleas or convictions on a variety of charges. These convictions range from financial crimes to making false statements to Congress.
Cohen lied to Congress about the “Moscow Project.” This project aimed at creating a Trump Tower in Russia and took place during Trump’s 2016 candidacy for president. Cohen admitted that negotiations had gone on for six months after the time he told Congress they had concluded. He also stated that he discussed the project with Donald Trump three more times than he had originally stated. This deal not only creates a conflict of interest between Trump’s business and candidacy, but also provides a motive for the Russians to interfere in the election. Ultimately, Cohen said that he lied in order to “minimize links between the project and Trump as his campaign was gaining steam.”
In addition to this, he also paid adult film actress Stephanie Clifford $130,000 to ensure confidentiality over an affair with then candidate Donald Trump. Playboy model Karen McDougal received a similar payment of $150,000. This amount far exceed the limit of $2,700 set for personal campaign contributions to a single candidate. Cohen, in a sentencing appearance on December 7, 2018, stated that these payments were made on the orders of Trump.
On December 12, Micheal Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison, and will begin his sentence in March of 2019. Cohen joins the growing list of people who have received prison due to the findings of the Mueller investigation. He joins George Papadopoulos, Micheal Flynn, Alex van der Zwaan, both sentenced for lying about their Russian contacts, and Richard Pinedo, sentenced for identity fraud in connection with the Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Trump claims that Cohen lied to decrease his jail time. “He was convicted of various things unrelated to us,” Trump said, “He’s a weak person and what he’s trying to do is get a reduced sentence.”
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