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In Sentencing Memo, Federal Prosecutors Seek 'Substantial' Prison Time for Trump Fixer Michael Cohen

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, meanwhile, is urging the judge to consider Cohen's contributions to his probe into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election

Michael Cohen

Michael Cohen, former lawyer to U.S. President Donald Trump, exits the Federal Courthouse on August 21, 2018 in New York City. Cohen reached an agreement with prosecutors, pleading guilty to charges involving bank fraud, tax fraud and campaign finance violations. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)

In a sentencing memo released Friday evening, federal prosecutors said President Donald Trump's longtime fixer Michael Cohen should face "a substantial term of imprisonment"—which, in this case, would amount to about four years behind bars—for pleading guilty to felonies that include campaign finance violations allegedly made at Trump's direction for the purpose of influencing the 2016 election.

As part of a plea deal made with Special Counsel Robert Mueller—who is investigating alleged Russian meddling in the election, and any involvement by the Trump campaign or administration in such matters—Cohen also admitted last week to lying to Congress about plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

For that crime, the Special Counsel's Office (SCO) also released a sentencing memo late Friday, which points out that in recent months,

the defendant has taken significant steps to mitigate his criminal conduct. He chose to accept responsibility for his false statements and admit to his conduct in open court. He also has gone to significant lengths to assist the Special Counsel's investigation... The information he has provided has been credible and consistent with other evidence obtained in SCO's ongoing investigation.

Mueller's memo does not weigh in on how Cohen should be punished for lying to federal lawmakers investigating the presidential election—but while it acknowledges that "the defendant's crime was serious" and he should face "real consequences," it also urges the judge who will be making the final decision to consider Cohen's contributions to the SCO's probe and says that any prison time should be served concurrently with any sentence for his other crimes.

The prosecutors' memo, meanwhile, charges that Cohen has engaged in "a pattern of deception that permeated his professional life," and he did does not deserve the lenient sentence he is seeking due to his cooperation with investigations of the president. "He was motivated to do so by personal greed, and repeatedly used his power and influence for deceptive ends," that memo states.

Law professor Neal Katyal, who served as acting solicitor general of United States during the Obama administration, commented on Twitter that the memo from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York "is quite harsh to [Cohen], seeking a substantial jail sentence. Also very harsh about the campaign finance crimes that were committed, crimes in which Trump has been directly implicated by Cohen."

"Just to make it crystal clear," tweeted former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti, "New York federal prosecutors concluded that the President of the United States committed a felony."

Cohen is scheduled to appear before a judge in Manhattan on Wednesday for sentencing.

Read the SCO's memo here (pdf) and the district attorney's memo here (pdf).

This post has been updated with comment from former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti.

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