All posts by MPolitics

Flynn Argues Against Prison Time in Russia Probe 

Lawyers for Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, asked a judge Tuesday to spare him prison time, saying he had devoted his career to his country and taken responsibility for an “uncharacteristic error in judgment.” 

 

The arguments to the judge echoed those of special counsel Robert Mueller’s office, which last week said that Flynn’s cooperation — including 19 meetings with investigators — was so extensive that he was entitled to avoid prison when he is sentenced next week. 

 

Flynn, who pleaded guilty of lying to the FBI about conversations during the presidential transition period with the then-Russian ambassador to the United States, will become the first White House official punished in the special counsel’s probe into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia during the 2016 presidential election. 

 

In court papers Tuesday, he requested probation and community service for his false statements.  

The filing came as lawyers for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort said they were still deciding whether to dispute allegations that he lied to investigators and breached his plea agreement. A judge gave Manafort until Jan. 7 to respond to prosecutors’ claims that he misled them about his interactions with an associate who they say has ties to Russian intelligence and with Trump administration officials. 

 

The defendants, their fortunes sliding in opposite directions, represent starkly different paths in Mueller’s investigation — a model cooperator on one end and, prosecutors say, a dishonest and resistant witness on the other. Even as prosecutors recommend no prison time for Flynn, they’ve left open the possibility they may seek additional charges against Manafort, who is already facing years in prison. 

Threats to Trump

 

Given both men’s extensive conversations with prosecutors, and their involvement in key episodes under scrutiny, the pair could pose a threat to Trump, who in addition to Mueller’s investigation is entangled in a separate probe by prosecutors in New York into hush-money payments paid during the campaign to two women who say they had affairs with the president. 

 

Since his guilty plea a year ago, Flynn has stayed largely out of the public eye and refrained from discussing the Russia investigation despite encouragement from his supporters to take an aggressive stance. 

 

Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general, spent three decades in the military, including five years in combat. In a public statement after his plea, Flynn has said he cooperated with prosecutors because it was in “the best interests of my family and our country.” 

 

In Manafort’s case, prosecutors have accused him of repeatedly lying to them even after he agreed to cooperate. They say Manafort lied about his interactions with a longtime associate they say has ties to Russian intelligence, his contacts with Trump administration officials and other matters under investigation by the Justice Department. 

 

Manafort pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges in Washington in September and faces sentencing in a separate case in Virginia, where he was convicted of eight felony counts related to his efforts to hide from the Internal Revenue Service millions of dollars he received for Ukrainian political consulting.

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Flynn Argues Against Prison Time in Russia Probe 

Lawyers for Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, asked a judge Tuesday to spare him prison time, saying he had devoted his career to his country and taken responsibility for an “uncharacteristic error in judgment.” 

 

The arguments to the judge echoed those of special counsel Robert Mueller’s office, which last week said that Flynn’s cooperation — including 19 meetings with investigators — was so extensive that he was entitled to avoid prison when he is sentenced next week. 

 

Flynn, who pleaded guilty of lying to the FBI about conversations during the presidential transition period with the then-Russian ambassador to the United States, will become the first White House official punished in the special counsel’s probe into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia during the 2016 presidential election. 

 

In court papers Tuesday, he requested probation and community service for his false statements.  

The filing came as lawyers for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort said they were still deciding whether to dispute allegations that he lied to investigators and breached his plea agreement. A judge gave Manafort until Jan. 7 to respond to prosecutors’ claims that he misled them about his interactions with an associate who they say has ties to Russian intelligence and with Trump administration officials. 

 

The defendants, their fortunes sliding in opposite directions, represent starkly different paths in Mueller’s investigation — a model cooperator on one end and, prosecutors say, a dishonest and resistant witness on the other. Even as prosecutors recommend no prison time for Flynn, they’ve left open the possibility they may seek additional charges against Manafort, who is already facing years in prison. 

Threats to Trump

 

Given both men’s extensive conversations with prosecutors, and their involvement in key episodes under scrutiny, the pair could pose a threat to Trump, who in addition to Mueller’s investigation is entangled in a separate probe by prosecutors in New York into hush-money payments paid during the campaign to two women who say they had affairs with the president. 

 

Since his guilty plea a year ago, Flynn has stayed largely out of the public eye and refrained from discussing the Russia investigation despite encouragement from his supporters to take an aggressive stance. 

 

Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general, spent three decades in the military, including five years in combat. In a public statement after his plea, Flynn has said he cooperated with prosecutors because it was in “the best interests of my family and our country.” 

 

In Manafort’s case, prosecutors have accused him of repeatedly lying to them even after he agreed to cooperate. They say Manafort lied about his interactions with a longtime associate they say has ties to Russian intelligence, his contacts with Trump administration officials and other matters under investigation by the Justice Department. 

 

Manafort pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges in Washington in September and faces sentencing in a separate case in Virginia, where he was convicted of eight felony counts related to his efforts to hide from the Internal Revenue Service millions of dollars he received for Ukrainian political consulting.

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Trump Not Concerned About Impeachment, Defends Payments to Women

President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he was not concerned that he could be impeached and that hush payments made ahead of the 2016 election by his former personal attorney Michael Cohen to two women did not violate campaign finance laws.

“It’s hard to impeach somebody who hasn’t done anything wrong and who’s created the greatest economy in the history of our country,” Trump told Reuters in an Oval Office interview.

“I’m not concerned, no. I think that the people would revolt if that happened,” he said.

Federal prosecutors in New York said last week that Trump directed Cohen to make six-figure payments to two women so they would not discuss their alleged affairs with the candidate ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

They said the payments violated laws that stipulate that campaign contributions, defined as things of value given to a campaign to influence an election, must be disclosed, and limited to $2,700 per person.

Democrats said such a campaign law violation would be an impeachable offense, although senior party leaders in Congress have questioned whether it is a serious enough crime to warrant politically charged impeachment proceedings.

Impeachment requires a simple majority to pass the House of Representatives, where Democrats will take control in January. But removal of the president from office further requires a two-thirds majority in the Senate, where Trump’s fellow Republicans hold sway.

Cohen is scheduled to be sentenced on Wednesday in New York for his role in the payments to the two women — adult film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal.

Trump has denied having affairs with them.

Earlier this year, Trump acknowledged repaying Cohen for $130,000 paid to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.

He  previously disputed knowing anything about the payments.

Trump has slammed Cohen for cooperating with prosecutors, alleging that the lawyer is telling lies about him in a bid to get a lighter prison term. He has called for Cohen to get a long sentence and said on Tuesday his ex-lawyer should have known the campaign finance laws.

“Michael Cohen is a lawyer. I assume he would know what he’s doing,” Trump said when asked if he had discussed campaign finance laws with Cohen.

“Number one, it wasn’t a campaign contribution. If it were, it’s only civil, and even if it’s only civil, there was no violation based on what we did. OK?”

Asked about prosecutors’ assertions that a number of people who had worked for him met or had business dealings with Russians before and during his 2016 presidential campaign, Trump said: “The stuff you’re talking about is peanut stuff.”

He then sought to turn the subject to his 2016 Democratic opponent.

“I haven’t heard this, but I can only tell you this: Hillary Clinton — her husband got money, she got money, she paid money, why doesn’t somebody talk about that?” Trump said.

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Trump Not Concerned About Impeachment, Defends Payments to Women

President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he was not concerned that he could be impeached and that hush payments made ahead of the 2016 election by his former personal attorney Michael Cohen to two women did not violate campaign finance laws.

“It’s hard to impeach somebody who hasn’t done anything wrong and who’s created the greatest economy in the history of our country,” Trump told Reuters in an Oval Office interview.

“I’m not concerned, no. I think that the people would revolt if that happened,” he said.

Federal prosecutors in New York said last week that Trump directed Cohen to make six-figure payments to two women so they would not discuss their alleged affairs with the candidate ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

They said the payments violated laws that stipulate that campaign contributions, defined as things of value given to a campaign to influence an election, must be disclosed, and limited to $2,700 per person.

Democrats said such a campaign law violation would be an impeachable offense, although senior party leaders in Congress have questioned whether it is a serious enough crime to warrant politically charged impeachment proceedings.

Impeachment requires a simple majority to pass the House of Representatives, where Democrats will take control in January. But removal of the president from office further requires a two-thirds majority in the Senate, where Trump’s fellow Republicans hold sway.

Cohen is scheduled to be sentenced on Wednesday in New York for his role in the payments to the two women — adult film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal.

Trump has denied having affairs with them.

Earlier this year, Trump acknowledged repaying Cohen for $130,000 paid to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.

He  previously disputed knowing anything about the payments.

Trump has slammed Cohen for cooperating with prosecutors, alleging that the lawyer is telling lies about him in a bid to get a lighter prison term. He has called for Cohen to get a long sentence and said on Tuesday his ex-lawyer should have known the campaign finance laws.

“Michael Cohen is a lawyer. I assume he would know what he’s doing,” Trump said when asked if he had discussed campaign finance laws with Cohen.

“Number one, it wasn’t a campaign contribution. If it were, it’s only civil, and even if it’s only civil, there was no violation based on what we did. OK?”

Asked about prosecutors’ assertions that a number of people who had worked for him met or had business dealings with Russians before and during his 2016 presidential campaign, Trump said: “The stuff you’re talking about is peanut stuff.”

He then sought to turn the subject to his 2016 Democratic opponent.

“I haven’t heard this, but I can only tell you this: Hillary Clinton — her husband got money, she got money, she paid money, why doesn’t somebody talk about that?” Trump said.

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Day of Reckoning Looms for Ex-Trump Lawyer Cohen

The moment of reckoning has nearly arrived for Michael Cohen, who finds out Wednesday whether his decision to walk away from President Donald Trump after years of unwavering loyalty will spare him from a harsh prison sentence. 

 

A federal judge in New York is set to decide whether Cohen gets leniency or years in prison for crimes including tax evasion, making illegal hush-money payments to protect Trump during the campaign and lying to Congress about the president’s past business dealings in Russia. 

 

Few observers expect the hearing to go well for the 52-year-old attorney. 

 

For weeks, his legal strategy appeared to revolve around convincing the court that he is a reformed man who abandoned longtime friendships and gave up his livelihood when he decided to break with the president and speak with federal investigators.

That narrative collapsed last week. New York prosecutors urged a judge to sentence Cohen to a substantial prison term, saying he’d failed to fully cooperate and overstated his helpfulness. They’ve asked for only a slight reduction in the 4- to 5-year term he would face under federal sentencing guidelines. 

Revisiting of sentence

 

A sentence of hard time would leave Cohen with little to show for his decision to plead guilty, though experts said Wednesday’s hearing might not be the last word on his punishment. 

 

Cohen could have his sentence revisited if he strikes a deal with prosecutors in which he provides additional cooperation within a year of his sentence, said Michael J. Stern, a former federal prosecutor in Detroit and Los Angeles. 

 

“Few things spark a defendant’s renewed interest in cooperating faster than trading in a pair of custom Italian trousers for an off-the-rack orange jumpsuit,” he said.    

  

Annemarie McAvoy, a former federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, said prosecutors appear to be angry at Cohen for limiting his cooperation. 

 

“It could be a tactic to try to break him like they’ve tried to do with [Paul] Manafort,” McAvoy said, referring to Trump’s former campaign chairman. “It kind of shows they’re putting the screws to him. If they’re not mad at him, he didn’t give them what they wanted.” 

 

Cohen’s transition from Trump’s fixer-in-chief to felon has been head-spinning.  

During the campaign, he coordinated payments to buy the silence of two women — former Playboy model Karen McDougal and adult film actress Stormy Daniels — who were thinking of speaking with reporters about alleged sexual encounters with Trump. Cohen once told an interviewer he would “take a bullet” for Trump. 

 

But months after investigators began gathering evidence that he’d dodged $1.4 million in taxes, Cohen pleaded guilty in August, pledged to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and changed his party registration from Republican to Democrat.  

  

Prosecutors said Cohen orchestrated payments to McDougal and Daniels at Trump’s direction.  

  

Trump, who insists the affairs never happened, said Monday in a tweet mocked for its spelling errors that the campaign finance allegations are being made up by Democrats disappointed not to have found a “smocking gun” proving collusion between his campaign and Russia. 

 

“So now the Dems go to a simple private transaction, wrongly call it a campaign contribution … which it was not (but even if it was, it is only a CIVIL CASE, like Obama’s – but it was done correctly by a lawyer and there would not even be a fine. Lawyer’s liability if he made a mistake, not me). Cohen just trying to get his sentence reduced. WITCH HUNT!” Trump wrote. 

‘Bring his toothbrush’

 

U.S. District Judge William Pauley III, who was appointed to the federal bench by former President Bill Clinton, may allow Cohen to begin serving any prison term he receives at a later date. But legal experts said Cohen could also be taken into custody immediately.  

  

“If I were advising him, I’d encourage him to bring his toothbrush to court,” said Stern. 

 

Cohen’s lawyers have asked for no prison time, saying he has suffered enough already. 

 

“The greatest punishment Michael has endured in the criminal process has been the shame and anxiety he feels daily from having subjected his family to the fallout from his case,” his attorneys wrote in a court filing last month. “The media glare and intrusions on all of them, including his children, the regular hate correspondence and written and oral threats, the fact that he will lose his law license, the termination of business relationships by banks and insurers and the loss of friendships, are but some of this fallout.” 

 

Federal prosecutors said the request of a probation-only sentence is unbefitting of “a man who knowingly sought to undermine core institutions of our democracy.” 

 

Mueller’s office took a far kinder view of Cohen’s cooperation in a separate court filing, crediting him for useful insights about attempts by Russian intermediaries to influence Trump, among other matters.  

  

Cohen’s latest plea agreement, reached last month, requires he “provide truthful information regarding any and all matters” Mueller deems relevant. The same document bars Cohen from appealing his sentence unless his prison term exceeds federal guidelines, or he claims to have received ineffective assistance of counsel in his proceedings.  

  

David S. Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor in Miami, said Cohen’s lawyers miscalculated by seeking an “unreasonably lenient” sentence.   

  

“They got a little greedy,” Weinstein said. “Judges take a dim view of lawyers who have played the system. Cohen knew where the line was, and he chose to step over the line.” 

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Day of Reckoning Looms for Ex-Trump Lawyer Cohen

The moment of reckoning has nearly arrived for Michael Cohen, who finds out Wednesday whether his decision to walk away from President Donald Trump after years of unwavering loyalty will spare him from a harsh prison sentence. 

 

A federal judge in New York is set to decide whether Cohen gets leniency or years in prison for crimes including tax evasion, making illegal hush-money payments to protect Trump during the campaign and lying to Congress about the president’s past business dealings in Russia. 

 

Few observers expect the hearing to go well for the 52-year-old attorney. 

 

For weeks, his legal strategy appeared to revolve around convincing the court that he is a reformed man who abandoned longtime friendships and gave up his livelihood when he decided to break with the president and speak with federal investigators.

That narrative collapsed last week. New York prosecutors urged a judge to sentence Cohen to a substantial prison term, saying he’d failed to fully cooperate and overstated his helpfulness. They’ve asked for only a slight reduction in the 4- to 5-year term he would face under federal sentencing guidelines. 

Revisiting of sentence

 

A sentence of hard time would leave Cohen with little to show for his decision to plead guilty, though experts said Wednesday’s hearing might not be the last word on his punishment. 

 

Cohen could have his sentence revisited if he strikes a deal with prosecutors in which he provides additional cooperation within a year of his sentence, said Michael J. Stern, a former federal prosecutor in Detroit and Los Angeles. 

 

“Few things spark a defendant’s renewed interest in cooperating faster than trading in a pair of custom Italian trousers for an off-the-rack orange jumpsuit,” he said.    

  

Annemarie McAvoy, a former federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, said prosecutors appear to be angry at Cohen for limiting his cooperation. 

 

“It could be a tactic to try to break him like they’ve tried to do with [Paul] Manafort,” McAvoy said, referring to Trump’s former campaign chairman. “It kind of shows they’re putting the screws to him. If they’re not mad at him, he didn’t give them what they wanted.” 

 

Cohen’s transition from Trump’s fixer-in-chief to felon has been head-spinning.  

During the campaign, he coordinated payments to buy the silence of two women — former Playboy model Karen McDougal and adult film actress Stormy Daniels — who were thinking of speaking with reporters about alleged sexual encounters with Trump. Cohen once told an interviewer he would “take a bullet” for Trump. 

 

But months after investigators began gathering evidence that he’d dodged $1.4 million in taxes, Cohen pleaded guilty in August, pledged to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and changed his party registration from Republican to Democrat.  

  

Prosecutors said Cohen orchestrated payments to McDougal and Daniels at Trump’s direction.  

  

Trump, who insists the affairs never happened, said Monday in a tweet mocked for its spelling errors that the campaign finance allegations are being made up by Democrats disappointed not to have found a “smocking gun” proving collusion between his campaign and Russia. 

 

“So now the Dems go to a simple private transaction, wrongly call it a campaign contribution … which it was not (but even if it was, it is only a CIVIL CASE, like Obama’s – but it was done correctly by a lawyer and there would not even be a fine. Lawyer’s liability if he made a mistake, not me). Cohen just trying to get his sentence reduced. WITCH HUNT!” Trump wrote. 

‘Bring his toothbrush’

 

U.S. District Judge William Pauley III, who was appointed to the federal bench by former President Bill Clinton, may allow Cohen to begin serving any prison term he receives at a later date. But legal experts said Cohen could also be taken into custody immediately.  

  

“If I were advising him, I’d encourage him to bring his toothbrush to court,” said Stern. 

 

Cohen’s lawyers have asked for no prison time, saying he has suffered enough already. 

 

“The greatest punishment Michael has endured in the criminal process has been the shame and anxiety he feels daily from having subjected his family to the fallout from his case,” his attorneys wrote in a court filing last month. “The media glare and intrusions on all of them, including his children, the regular hate correspondence and written and oral threats, the fact that he will lose his law license, the termination of business relationships by banks and insurers and the loss of friendships, are but some of this fallout.” 

 

Federal prosecutors said the request of a probation-only sentence is unbefitting of “a man who knowingly sought to undermine core institutions of our democracy.” 

 

Mueller’s office took a far kinder view of Cohen’s cooperation in a separate court filing, crediting him for useful insights about attempts by Russian intermediaries to influence Trump, among other matters.  

  

Cohen’s latest plea agreement, reached last month, requires he “provide truthful information regarding any and all matters” Mueller deems relevant. The same document bars Cohen from appealing his sentence unless his prison term exceeds federal guidelines, or he claims to have received ineffective assistance of counsel in his proceedings.  

  

David S. Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor in Miami, said Cohen’s lawyers miscalculated by seeking an “unreasonably lenient” sentence.   

  

“They got a little greedy,” Weinstein said. “Judges take a dim view of lawyers who have played the system. Cohen knew where the line was, and he chose to step over the line.” 

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Mueller Probe Points to Numerous Links Between Trump Associates, Russia

U.S. President Donald Trump has insisted on numerous occasions that his 2016 presidential campaign had nothing to do with Russia.

“Time for the Witch Hunt to END!” Trump said in a message on Twitter last Saturday. “After two years and millions of pages of documents (and a cost of over $30 million) no collusion!” Trump tweeted earlier. 

But the special counsel investigating Russian meddling in Trump’s victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton has unearthed plenty of evidence connecting Trump associates with Russia. In the year and a half since Robert Mueller took over the investigation into possible collusion, charging documents have alleged that more than a dozen Trump associates – from former campaign manager Paul Manafort to son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner – communicated with Russians, in one form or another, during and after the election. 

While the Mueller investigation operates under grand jury secrecy, the evidence the special prosecutor has referenced in court documents points to deeper and broader than previously thought contacts between people in Trump’s orbit and Russian operatives who sought to gain influence with the Republican president.

The latest revelation on the nexus between Trump and Russia appeared in a sentencing memo for former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen who pleaded guilty last week to lying to Congress about Trump’s efforts, during the campaign, to build a Trump tower in Moscow.

Last year, Cohen told lawmakers that his efforts on behalf of Trump to win Russian approval and build a new high rise in Moscow ended in January 2016, just as the campaign was heating up, whereas in fact they continued through June 2016, shortly before Trump secured the Republican presidential nomination. In the memo, Mueller’s prosecutors wrote that Cohen, who once said he would “take a bullet” for Trump but subsequently turned on his former boss, has provided “information about his own contacts with Russian interests during the campaign and discussions with others in the course of making those contacts.”

Cohen, who broached the possibility of a meeting in New York between Putin and Trump during the U.N. General Assembly in September 2016, has told prosecutors that he had “conferred” with Trump about the idea before “reaching out to gauge Russia’s interest in such a meeting,” according to the memo. 

The meeting did not take place for reasons that prosecutors did not reveal. 

Russian attempts to set up such a meeting persisted, however. In November 2016, Cohen spoke with a Russian who offered “political synergy” with the campaign and “repeatedly proposed a meeting between Putin and Trump. 

“The person told Cohen that such a meeting could have a ‘phenomenal’ impact ‘not only in political but in a business dimension’… because there is ‘no bigger warranty in any project than consent of [the President of Russia,]’” according to the memo. 

Cohen did not follow up on the invitation, according to the court filing, explaining to prosecutors that “he was working on the Moscow Project with a different individual who Cohen understood to have his own connections to the Russian government.” 

The unidentified individual is believed to be Felix Sater, a Russian-born real estate developer who worked as an adviser for the Trump Organization.

Trump’s interest in doing business with Russia goes back decades. In 2013, he brought the Miss Universe beauty pageant to Moscow. Throughout the 2016 campaign Trump repeatedly praised Putin and reveled in the Russian president’s compliments before the relationship soured after the election. 

The latest filings came at the end of a whirlwind week in the Russia investigation that saw similar documents filed in criminal cases involving Manafort and former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in denying he had conversations with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. shortly after the election and before Trump took office, at a time Russia was trying to get out from under U.S. sanctions. 

The Cohen sentencing memo represents the first time the special counsel has alleged a discussion between Trump and his lawyer about a meeting with Putin during the 2016 election.It suggests that Trump remained focused on his business interests even as he was running for the White House. 

“If the project was completed, the Company could have received hundreds of millions of dollars from Russian sources in licensing fees and other revenues,” the Cohen sentencing memo says. 

Other Trump associates accused of interacting with Russia during and after the 2016 campaign include former attorney general Jeff Sessions who met with former Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the campaign and former campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos who tried to set up a meeting between Trump and Putin during the campaign.

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Mueller Probe Points to Numerous Links Between Trump Associates, Russia

U.S. President Donald Trump has insisted on numerous occasions that his 2016 presidential campaign had nothing to do with Russia.

“Time for the Witch Hunt to END!” Trump said in a message on Twitter last Saturday. “After two years and millions of pages of documents (and a cost of over $30 million) no collusion!” Trump tweeted earlier. 

But the special counsel investigating Russian meddling in Trump’s victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton has unearthed plenty of evidence connecting Trump associates with Russia. In the year and a half since Robert Mueller took over the investigation into possible collusion, charging documents have alleged that more than a dozen Trump associates – from former campaign manager Paul Manafort to son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner – communicated with Russians, in one form or another, during and after the election. 

While the Mueller investigation operates under grand jury secrecy, the evidence the special prosecutor has referenced in court documents points to deeper and broader than previously thought contacts between people in Trump’s orbit and Russian operatives who sought to gain influence with the Republican president.

The latest revelation on the nexus between Trump and Russia appeared in a sentencing memo for former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen who pleaded guilty last week to lying to Congress about Trump’s efforts, during the campaign, to build a Trump tower in Moscow.

Last year, Cohen told lawmakers that his efforts on behalf of Trump to win Russian approval and build a new high rise in Moscow ended in January 2016, just as the campaign was heating up, whereas in fact they continued through June 2016, shortly before Trump secured the Republican presidential nomination. In the memo, Mueller’s prosecutors wrote that Cohen, who once said he would “take a bullet” for Trump but subsequently turned on his former boss, has provided “information about his own contacts with Russian interests during the campaign and discussions with others in the course of making those contacts.”

Cohen, who broached the possibility of a meeting in New York between Putin and Trump during the U.N. General Assembly in September 2016, has told prosecutors that he had “conferred” with Trump about the idea before “reaching out to gauge Russia’s interest in such a meeting,” according to the memo. 

The meeting did not take place for reasons that prosecutors did not reveal. 

Russian attempts to set up such a meeting persisted, however. In November 2016, Cohen spoke with a Russian who offered “political synergy” with the campaign and “repeatedly proposed a meeting between Putin and Trump. 

“The person told Cohen that such a meeting could have a ‘phenomenal’ impact ‘not only in political but in a business dimension’… because there is ‘no bigger warranty in any project than consent of [the President of Russia,]’” according to the memo. 

Cohen did not follow up on the invitation, according to the court filing, explaining to prosecutors that “he was working on the Moscow Project with a different individual who Cohen understood to have his own connections to the Russian government.” 

The unidentified individual is believed to be Felix Sater, a Russian-born real estate developer who worked as an adviser for the Trump Organization.

Trump’s interest in doing business with Russia goes back decades. In 2013, he brought the Miss Universe beauty pageant to Moscow. Throughout the 2016 campaign Trump repeatedly praised Putin and reveled in the Russian president’s compliments before the relationship soured after the election. 

The latest filings came at the end of a whirlwind week in the Russia investigation that saw similar documents filed in criminal cases involving Manafort and former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in denying he had conversations with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. shortly after the election and before Trump took office, at a time Russia was trying to get out from under U.S. sanctions. 

The Cohen sentencing memo represents the first time the special counsel has alleged a discussion between Trump and his lawyer about a meeting with Putin during the 2016 election.It suggests that Trump remained focused on his business interests even as he was running for the White House. 

“If the project was completed, the Company could have received hundreds of millions of dollars from Russian sources in licensing fees and other revenues,” the Cohen sentencing memo says. 

Other Trump associates accused of interacting with Russia during and after the 2016 campaign include former attorney general Jeff Sessions who met with former Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the campaign and former campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos who tried to set up a meeting between Trump and Putin during the campaign.

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Former US Senators Warn of ‘Dangerous Period’ Ahead

A group of former U.S. Senate members from both the Democratic and Republican parties is urging current members to be “guardians of our democracy” and not let party affiliation get in the way of the interests of the country as it faces a “critical juncture.”

The 44 former lawmakers wrote in an op-ed published Monday by the Washington Post that the United States is “entering a dangerous period” and they felt they needed to “speak up about serious challenges to the rule of law, the Constitution, our governing institutions and our national security.”

They cited the eventual conclusion of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion with President Donald Trump’s campaign, as well as the planned investigations of the Trump administration by the Democrat-led House of Representatives that will be in place next month as challenges that are coming amid regional and global conflicts.

“We are at an inflection point in which the foundational principles of our democracy and our national security interests are at stake, and the rule of law and the ability of our institutions to function freely and independently must be upheld,” they wrote.

The group includes Democrats John Kerry, Tom Daschle and Chris Dodd, as well as Republicans John Warner, Richard Lugar and Chuck Hagel.

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Former US Senators Warn of ‘Dangerous Period’ Ahead

A group of former U.S. Senate members from both the Democratic and Republican parties is urging current members to be “guardians of our democracy” and not let party affiliation get in the way of the interests of the country as it faces a “critical juncture.”

The 44 former lawmakers wrote in an op-ed published Monday by the Washington Post that the United States is “entering a dangerous period” and they felt they needed to “speak up about serious challenges to the rule of law, the Constitution, our governing institutions and our national security.”

They cited the eventual conclusion of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion with President Donald Trump’s campaign, as well as the planned investigations of the Trump administration by the Democrat-led House of Representatives that will be in place next month as challenges that are coming amid regional and global conflicts.

“We are at an inflection point in which the foundational principles of our democracy and our national security interests are at stake, and the rule of law and the ability of our institutions to function freely and independently must be upheld,” they wrote.

The group includes Democrats John Kerry, Tom Daschle and Chris Dodd, as well as Republicans John Warner, Richard Lugar and Chuck Hagel.

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