US prosecutors name Trump in hush payments, detail Russian contacts

Blanche Robertson
December 8, 2018

Cohen also told prosecutors that he and Trump discussed a potential meeting with Putin on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in 2015, shortly after Trump announced his candidacy for president, the filings say.

USA 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.

He had provided information about contacts with Russian interests during the campaign, attempts by Russians to reach the campaign and about contacts with "persons connected to the White House" in 2017-2018, the filing added.

"Totally clears the President".

Manhattan prosecutors said Cohen should serve "a substantial term of imprisonment" despite his cooperation.

"Donald Trump has been implicated directly in campaign finance violations but it is not yet clear what these latest filings have to do with the Russian collusion investigation, if anything", Al Jazeera's correspondent Shihab Rattansi said, speaking from Washington DC.

While the willful tax evasion and making false statements to a financial institution charges have nothing to do with Trump, the illegal campaign contributions and making false statements to Congress were related to his campaign. Russian Federation has denied interfering in the election to help Trump.

Trump tweets: "Robert Mueller and Leakin' Lyin' James Comey are Best Friends, just one of many Mueller Conflicts of Interest".

Later, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in two statements that the Manafort filing "says absolutely nothing about the President" and the Cohen filings "tell us nothing of value that wasn't already known".

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Cohen and Manafort are among five former Trump associates whom prosecutors have accused of lying either to federal investigators or to Congress.

They also suggest Trump and his family were in the loop on discussions with Russians on a Moscow project, even after the real estate tycoon secured the Republican nomination in mid-2016.

Mueller said that discussions about the potential Moscow development were relevant to the investigation because they occurred "at a time of sustained efforts by the Russian government to interfere with the US presidential election".

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. Cohen did not follow up on the offer, the filing says. He also said his lawyers were preparing a "counter to the Mueller Report".

Mueller also detailed alleged lies told by Manafort during interviews with prosecutors and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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

Cohen, an attorney and businessman, committed four distinct federal crimes over a period of several years.

However, in the crimes to which he pleaded guilty in August, he was motivated "by personal greed and repeatedly used his power and influence for deceptive ends".

They said Cohen should receive some credit for cooperating with Mueller but noted he had not entered into a similar agreement with their office.

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