INTERNATIONAL

‘Russian offered Trump team cooperation’

U.S. 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.

In a separate case, federal prosecutors on Friday demanded “substantial” jail time of between 51 and 63 months — four to five years — for Mr. Cohen for bank fraud and campaign finance violations to which he plead guilty in August.

U.S. Attorney Robert Khuzami accused the 52-year-old, who once vowed to take a bullet for the President, of being motivated by “personal greed” and of “repeatedly” using his power and influence for “deceptive ends”.

“Totally clears the President. Thank you!” Mr. Trump tweeted cryptically as television networks were consumed by the Cohen documents — which the White House dismissed as revealing “nothing of value”.

The campaign finance violations to which Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty — unrelated to the Russia investigation — concerned hush payments he made on Mr. Trump’s behalf to alleged former lovers of the President, including porn star Stormy Daniels.

Direct link

In the 40-page document, Mr. Khuzami drew a direct link between Mr. Cohen’s illegal behaviour and Mr. Trump. “In particular, and as Cohen himself has now admitted, with respect to both payments, he acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1,” the document reads, referring to Mr. Trump.

Robert Mueller, the Special Counsel heading the probe into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 vote, followed up with a separate filing, saying that Mr. Cohen had made “substantial and significant efforts to remediate his misconduct, accept responsibility for his actions, and assist” the special 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 2017-18, the filing added. Around November 2015, some five months after Mr. Trump launched his bid for the presidency and well before previously reported contacts, Mr. Cohen spoke to a purported “trusted person” in the Russian Federation, who offered the campaign “political synergy” and “synergy on a government level”.

‘Phenomenal impact’

Mr. Cohen said the unidentified person “repeatedly proposed” a meeting between Mr. Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, claiming it could have a “phenomenal” impact “not only in political but in a business dimension as well.” Mr. Cohen, however, did not follow up on this invitation,” the filing added. Mr. Cohen last week pleaded guilty to lying to Congress in connection with a Moscow real estate deal, which was being pursued as late as one month before Mr. Trump officially became the Republican nominee for president.

Due to his help, Mr. Mueller declined to recommend additional jail time for Mr. Cohen for lying to Congress.

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