The Big Bombshells and Takeaways from Mueller, SDNY Sentencing Memos re Cohen, Manafort
Today, Special Counsel Robert Mueller, in accordance with court schedules, issued his sentencing memos for cases in which Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen have pled guilty, and the Southern District of New York (SDNY) has issued the same concerning Cohen. Manafort’s contained some substantial redactions, indicating that disclosure would compromise ongoing investigations. The memos started emerging at around 4:30pmEDT, and are still being pored over by journos and politics junkies.
Here are the big takeaways and bombshells.
And we mean BIG:
- SDNY prosecutors said that Trump, “Individual-1,” directed and acted in coordination with Michael Cohen to make illegal campaign contributions. That, sports fans, is a felony.
- SDNY wants to throw the book at Cohen, asking for a “substantial” sentence.
- Mueller’s filings on both Manafort and Cohen state that Manafort and Cohen were in touch with Trump administration officials and/or persons connected to the White House well after Trump took office — into 2018 for both guilty parties. Very collusion-y.
- Mueller, like SDNY, takes Cohen to the woodshed, stating Cohen’s “crime was serious. He withheld information material to the investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election being conducted by the Senate Select Commmittee on Intelligence, the House Permanent Select Commmittee on Intelligence, and the SCO.”
- Mueller’s filing on Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer, say he had communications during the campaign with an individual who claimed to be a “trusted person” in the Russian Federation who offered the Trump campaign “political synergy” and “synergy on a government level.” (We never knew “synergy” was a synonym for collusion.)
- Mueller’s filing on Cohen also states that “During his proffer sessions, the defendant admitted… that he had in fact conferred with Individual 1 about contacting the Russian government before reaching out to gauge Russia’s interest in such a meeting. The meeting ultimately did not take place.” More collusiony goodness!
- Mueller’s filing on Cohen stipulated that “Cohen provided relevant and useful information concerning his contacts with persons connected to the White House during the 2017–2018 time period” — and that Trump was aware of the outreach.
- The SDNY’s filing states “Cohen coordinated his actions [in arranging hush money for Stephanie “Stormy Daniels” Clifford and Karen McDougal] with one or more members of the campaign, including through meetings and phone calls, about the fact, nature, and timing of the payments. … The crimes committed by Cohen were more serious than his submission allows and were marked by a pattern of deception that permeated his professional life (and was evidently hidden from the friends and family members who wrote on his behalf).”
- Mueller’s Manafort filing specifies a litany of lies to his investigators on Manafort’s part about:
- interactions with Konstantin Kilimnik;
- a wire-transfer to a firm working for Manafort;
- info pertaining to “another DOJ investigation” (though he also provided information tat has proven true); and
- Manafort’s contact with Trump administration officials: “Manafort said in February 2018 that Manafort had been in communication with a senior Administration official up through February 2018.”
- “Manafort met with the Special Counsel’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation on twelve occasions. … On November 8, the government informed defense counsel that it believed that Manafort had lied in multiple ways and on multiple occasions.”
- Mueller’s Manafort filing states that Manafort provided information about [redacted] “pertinent to an investigation in another [federal judicial] district.”
- Russian oligarch and Putin ally Konstantin Kilimnik figures in Mueller’s filing on Manafort: “After signing the plea agreement, Manafort denied that Kilimnik was part of a criminal conspiracy to obstruct justice by reaching out to two witnessed to tailor their testimony to a false narrative that would exculpate them of a Foreign Agents Registration Act violation. Yet on September 14, 2018, Manafort pleaded guilty to… conspiring with Kilimnik to obstruct justice between February and April 2018 by trying to influence the testimony of two witnesses.” In short, the campaign manager for the person who is now president conspired with a known Russian spy to get around criminal law regulating foreign agents. Even smells a little treason-y.
- Finally, flipping back to Mueller’s memo on Cohen, we wonder what this might refer to: “Cohen provided the SCO with useful information concerning certain discrete Russia-related matters core to its investigation that he obtained by virtue of his regular contact with Company executives during them.” We smell something big and previously unreported.
Yes, your president has been named by prosecutors as up to his turkey-wattle double chin in hush payments. As noted above, it’s a felony. That’s going to leave a mark.
UPDATE: Max Bergmann and Sam Berger: “Mueller is coming. And he is clearly coming for Trump.“