Judge excoriates Trump ex-adviser Flynn, delays Russia probe sentencing
WASHINGTON – A U.S. judge fiercely criticized President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn on Tuesday for lying to FBI agents in a probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, and delayed sentencing him until Flynn has finished helping prosecutors.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan told Flynn, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant general and former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, that he had arguably betrayed his country. Sullivan also noted that Flynn had operated as an undeclared lobbyist for Turkey even as he worked on Trump’s campaign team and prepared to be his White House national security adviser.
Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents about his December 2016 conversations with Sergei Kislyak, then Russia’s ambassador in Washington, about U.S. sanctions imposed on Moscow by the administration of Trump’s Democratic predecessor Barack Obama. The conversations took place between Trump’s November election victory and his inauguration in January 2017.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller, leading the investigation into possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia ahead of the election, had asked the judge not to sentence Flynn to prison because he had already provided “substantial” cooperation over the course of many interviews.
Lying to the FBI carries a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison. Flynn’s plea agreement stated that he was eligible for a sentence of between zero and six months.
Sullivan sternly told Flynn his actions were abhorrent, noting that Flynn had also lied to senior White House officials, who in turn misled the public. The judge said he had read additional facts about Flynn’s behavior that have not been made public.
At one point, Sullivan asked prosecutors if Flynn could have been charged with treason, although the judge later said he had not been suggesting such a charge was warranted.
“Arguably, you sold your country out,” Sullivan told Flynn. “I’m not hiding my disgust, my disdain for this criminal offense.”
Flynn, dressed in a suit and tie, showed little emotion throughout the hearing, and spoke calmly when he confirmed his guilty plea and answered questions from the judge.
Sullivan appeared ready to sentence Flynn to prison but then gave him the option of a delay in his sentencing so he could fully cooperate with any pending investigations and bolster his case for leniency. The judge told Flynn he could not promise that he would not eventually sentence him to serve prison time.
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Michael Cohen, Trump’s Lawyer, sentenced to three years in prison
The Washington Post
Updated: December 12th, 2018
Michael Cohen sentenced to three years in prison for crimes committed while working for Trump
NEW YORK — A federal judge on Wednesday sentenced President Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen to three years in prison for financial crimes and lying to Congress, as the disgraced former “fixer” apologized but said he felt it was his duty to cover up the “dirty deeds” of his former boss.
Cohen made an emotional apology to U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III, taking responsibility for what the judge called a “veritable smorgasbord of criminal conduct” — crimes that included tax violations, lying to a bank and buying the silence during the 2016 campaign of women who claimed that they once had affairs with the future president.
The downfall of the hard-charging, high-profile lawyer has potential consequences far beyond Cohen, as authorities have alleged Trump directed him in violating campaign finance laws. Facing his day of reckoning, Cohen laid plenty of the blame at the president’s feet, and his lawyer said he would continue to cooperate with the ongoing special counsel investigation of the president’s campaign.
“My weakness could be characterized as a blind loyalty to Donald Trump,” Cohen told the packed courtroom. He stood, sniffling and fighting back tears as he spoke, and paused occasionally to regain his composure.
Cohen had faced as much as five years and three months in prison, but Pauley said his sentence should reflect two key elements of Cohen’s case — punishing those who repeatedly break the law while rewarding those who cooperate and provide truthful testimony. Cohen has provided information to investigators about Trump and the Trump campaign, but prosecutors said he refused to tell them everything he knew.
“Our democratic institutions depend upon the honesty of our citizenry in dealing with the government,” Pauley said, calling Cohen’s crimes serious, particularly given his profession.
“As a lawyer, Mr. Cohen should have known better,” the judge said. “While Mr. Cohen is taking steps to mitigate his criminal conduct by pleading guilty and volunteering useful information to prosecutors, that does not wipe the slate clean.
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The Associated Press
Updated: December 10th, 2018
Incoming U.S. House Leaders Raise Prospect of Impeachment, Jail for Trump
WASHINGTON (AP) — Top House Democrats have raised the prospect of impeachment or the real possibility of prison time for President Donald Trump if it’s proved that he directed illegal hush money payments to women, adding to the legal pressure on the president over the Russia investigation and other scandals.
“There’s a very real prospect that on the day Donald Trump leaves office, the Justice Department may indict him, that he may be the first president in quite some time to face the real prospect of jail time,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, the incoming chairman of the House intelligence committee. “The bigger pardon question may come down the road as the next president has to determine whether to pardon Donald Trump.”
Rep. Jerry Nadler, the incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, described the details in prosecutors’ filings Friday in the case of Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, as evidence that Trump was “at the center of a massive fraud.”
“They would be impeachable offenses,” Nadler said.
In the filings, prosecutors in New York for the first time link Trump to a federal crime of illegal payments to buy the silence of two women during the 2016 campaign. Special counsel Robert Mueller’s office also laid out previously undisclosed contacts between Trump associates and Russian intermediaries and suggested the Kremlin aimed early on to influence Trump and his Republican campaign by playing to both his political and personal business interests.
Trump has denied wrongdoing and has compared the investigations to a “witch hunt.”
Nadler, D-N.Y., said it was too early to say whether Congress would pursue impeachment proceedings based on the illegal payments alone because lawmakers would need to weigh the gravity of the offense to justify “overturning” the 2016 election. Nadler and other lawmakers said Sunday they would await additional details from Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference and possible coordination with the Trump campaign to determine the extent of Trump’s misconduct.
Regarding the illegal payments, “whether they are important enough to justify an impeachment is a different question, but certainly they’d be impeachable offenses because even though they were committed before the president became president, they were committed in the service of fraudulently obtaining the office,” Nadler said.
The Associated Press
US: Prosecutors Link Trump to Federal Crime, Reveal New Russia Contact
President Donald Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, was in touch as far back as 2015 with a Russian who offered “political synergy” with the Trump election campaign and proposed a meeting between the candidate and Russian President Vladimir Putin, the federal special counsel said.
Court filings from prosecutors in New York 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.
The filings, in cases involving Cohen and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort , capped a dramatic week of revelations in Mueller’s probe into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. They bring the legal peril from multiple investigations closer than ever to Trump, tying him to an illegal hush money payment scheme and contradicting his claims that he had nothing to do with Russia.
Court filings directly implicate Trump in hush-money plans, reveal new contact between inner circle and Russian (The Washington Post)
The Washington Post
Federal prosecutors filed new court papers Friday directly implicating President Trump in plans to buy women’s silence as far back as 2014 and offering new evidence of Russian efforts to forge a political alliance with Trump before he became president — disclosures that show the deepening political and legal morass enveloping the administration.
The separate filings came from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and federal prosecutors in New York ahead of Wednesday’s sentencing of Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.
Taken together, the documents suggest that the president’s legal woes are far from over and reveal a previously unreported contact from a Russian to Trump’s inner circle during the campaign. But the documents do not answer the central question at the heart of Mueller’s work — whether the president or those around him conspired with the Kremlin.
The documents offer a scathing portrait of his former lawyer as a criminal who deserves little sympathy or mercy because he held back from telling the FBI everything he knew. For that reason, prosecutors said, he should be sentenced to “substantial” prison time, suggesting possibly 3½ years.
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For first time, prosecutors connect Trump to a federal crime (AP)
[Read prosecutors’ sentencing recommendation for Michael Cohen]
[Read the special counsel’s memo on Michael Cohen]
‘Individual 1’: Trump emerges as a central subject of Mueller probe
Trump’s Former Lawyer Pleads Guilty to Lying to Congress About Moscow Project
[Read the criminal information document filed against Michael Cohen]
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