President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen said Friday he was in “close and regular contact” with Trump’s White House staff and legal team when he prepared a statement for Congress that he now says falsely downplayed Trump’s effort to land a Trump Tower Moscow deal during the 2016 presidential campaign.
In a filing seeking a lenient sentence, Cohen’s attorneys say his false statement to Congress — which Cohen pleaded guilty to on Thursday — was based on Trump and his team’s efforts to “portray contact with Russian representatives” by Trump, his campaign or his company “as having effectively terminated before the Iowa caucuses of February 1, 2016.”
“Seeking to stay in line with this message, Michael told Congress that his communications and efforts to finalize a building project in Moscow on behalf of the Trump Organization, which he began pursuing in 2015, had come to an end in January 2016, when a general inquiry he made to the Kremlin went unanswered,” Cohen’s lawyers Guy Petrillo and Amy Lester write.
USA Today reports:
Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s ex-personal lawyer, has sought leniency from a federal judge for his guilty pleas in crimes that implicated his former boss in questionable actions or potential illegality. Expressing repentance, contrition, and shame, Cohen asked to be spared from being sent to prison at his scheduled Dec. 12 sentencing in a legal memorandum filed late Friday.
The filing cited his cooperation with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, whose investigation has angrily been branded a “witchhunt” by Trump in numerous statements and tweets. Cohen’s attorneys, Guy Petrillo and Amy Lester, argued that instead angling for a presidential pardon or clemency regularly mentioned in news accounts, the former Trump lawyer took responsibility for his actions.