In a trio of documents submitted to judges on Friday evening in New York and Washington, federal prosecutors accused President Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort of lying repeatedly to investigators even after agreeing to cooperate in the Russia investigation, and suggested a four year prison term for the President’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, while acknowledging his extensive help in the Russia probe by the Special Counsel’s office.
“Manafort told multiple discernible lies,” Special Counsel Robert Mueller told a judge, “these were not instances of memory lapses.”
In a 10 page document, the Special Counsel also detailed how Manafort had been in contact with Trump Administration officials during 2018, even though he denied such contacts to investigators.
“The evidence demonstrates that Manafort lied about his contacts,” the Special Counsel wrote, saying that Manafort had used texts, third parties, and other electronic communications for such contacts as recently as May 26, 2018.
There were no details offered on what Manafort was discussing in those communications, or the identities of the Administration officials.
For those critics of the President who were looking for a blizzard of new information about the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections, and any ties to the Trump campaign, the Special Counsel did not deliver, as part of the Manafort document was redacted, and other evidence was not publicly detailed.
“If the defendant contends the government has not acted in good faith, the government is available to prove the false statements at a hearing,” Mueller’s team wrote.
In between blacked out portions of the court filing on Manafort were phrases like this:
+ “Manafort lied repeatedly about…”
+ “Manafort provided different explanations…”
+ “Manafort first denied that he had…”
+ “Manafort then acknowledged…”
+ “After being told of such evidence, Manafort conceded…”
Evidence to support the claim that Manafort made multiple false statements was filed under seal, to keep it secret.
Meanwhile, the government’s submissions on Michael Cohen offered dueling legal portraits of the President’s former personal lawyer, who has flipped on Mr. Trump.
Documents from federal prosecutors in New York and the Special Counsel’s office in Washington portrayed Cohen as someone who intentionally lied to deflect from investigations of the President, but who also is now cooperating with the feds on possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election.
“The defendant's crime was serious, both in terms of the underlying conduct and its effect on multiple government investigations,” the office of Special Counsel argued, going over Cohen’s lies to Congress and investigators about the extent of contacts during the 2016 campaign between the Trump Organization and Russians.
But as prosecutors from the Southern District of New York asked for a jail term around four years for Cohen, they made clear that while Cohen may be helping Mueller right now, he was not providing the same type of cooperation on investigations in Manhattan.
But Mueller’s office made clear that along with providing information on how women – who claimed they had an affair with President Trump were paid to keep silent – that Cohen has also provided insights into the Russia investigation.
One item which kept popping up in the Cohen documents was the actions of “Individual-1,” which is the legal moniker for the President of the United States.
The documents described how Cohen acted in concert, and at the direction of “Individual-1” in paying off two women before the 2016 election; they also described how Cohen lied to Congress in order to keep investigators from finding out that contacts between the Trump Organization and Russians about a major business project in Moscow had gone on deep into the 2016 campaign.
“The defendant’s crime was serious,” the Special Counsel reported. “The defendant's lies to Congress were deliberate and premeditated.”
If there was any doubt about the identity of “Individual-1,” the feds spelled it out.
“On approximately June 16, 2015, Individual-1, for whom Cohen worked at the time, began an ultimately successful campaign for President of the United States,” the document stated blandly.
Back at the White House, the President had moved away from a tweet storm of attacks on Mueller from earlier in the day, as he wrapped things up with one quick thought.
“Totally clears the President,” Mr. Trump tweeted. “Thank you!”
“The government's filing in Mr. Manafort's case says absolutely nothing about the President,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
“It says even less about collusion and is devoted almost entirely to lobbying-related issues. Once again the media is trying to create a story where there isn't one,” Sanders added in a statement to reporters.
Critics of the President disagreed.
“The United States Department of Justice filing today with the court leads to the unmistakable conclusion that President of the United States has committed felonies,” said Walter Dellinger, a former top Justice Department official during the Clinton Administration. “This will mark the beginning of the end.”
“In trouble: Individual-1,” tweeted law professor Orin Kerr.
“Also in trouble: John Barron,” Kerr added, using the fake name employed for years by Trump with reporters when he would cast himself as his own spokesman in phone conversations with journalists.