Monday 19 August 2019

Cohen 'has 14 million documents for Trump inquiries'

Michael Cohen. Photo: Alex Brandon/AP
Michael Cohen. Photo: Alex Brandon/AP

Adam Forrest

Lawyers representing US President Donald Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen have told members of Congress their client has a "substantial trove" of documents relevant to their investigations, in a bid to help keep him out of prison.

In a letter to politicians, Cohen's legal team said he had accessed a hard drive with more than 14 million files - including emails, voice recordings and attachments from his computers and phones.

They said the president's former fixer has identified documents which will be of interest to the House Democrats currently investigating Mr Trump.

"To date, Mr Cohen has located several documents that we believe have significant value to the various congressional oversight and investigation committees," wrote lawyers Lanny Davis, Michael Monico and Carly Chocron.

They also claimed Cohen would not be able to finish reviewing all the material if he reports to prison on May 6 as scheduled, asking the politicians to write letters explaining their client was co-operating.

His legal team said he had a "substantial trove of new information, documents, recordings, and other evidence" to offer.

Cohen, who pleaded guilty last year to tax evasion, fraud, lying to Congress and campaign finance violations, has already received one delay on medical grounds while he recovered from shoulder surgery. He has been sentenced to a three-year term in jail.

The request was sent to Representatives Adam Schiff, Jerry Nadler, Maxine Waters and Elijah Cummings. If any of them were to write such a letter, it would help Cohen's attempt to delay going to prison.

In their letter, Cohen's lawyers admitted they were still hoping federal prosecutors in New York would not only back another delay in the start of his prison term, but agree to reopen his case and advocate for a lighter sentence.

"It is our hope that the authorities in the Southern District of New York will consider this total picture of co-operation by Mr Cohen, verified by your letter and the important new evidence he has made available or could make available to assist the government, and the particular facts involved here to grant Mr Cohen a reduced term following the rules and procedures of the Southern District of New York," it says.

Cohen testified before congressional committees in February, including a televised hearing in front of the House Oversight Committee in which he denounced the president as a "conman" and a "cheat".

Meanwhile, Mr Trump has abandoned his threat to immediately seal the southern border, but warned he'd slap tariffs on cars coming to the US from Mexico unless the Mexicans did more to stop the flow of migrants and drugs to the US.

Mr Trump said he would try the "less drastic measure" before resorting to his standing border-closure threat.

"Mexico understands that we're going to close the border or I'm going to tariff the cars. I'll do one or the other. And probably start off with the tariffs," Trump said.

Penalty

He added later: "I don't think we'll ever have to close the border because the penalty of tariffs on cars coming into the United States from Mexico, at 25pc, will be massive."

It was the latest, seemingly sudden attempt at new leverage by a president struggling to solve what his administration has called a border "crisis."

And it was a dramatic departure for Mr Trump, who last week tweeted he would close the border or large swathes of it this week unless Mexico immediately halted "ALL illegal immigration coming into the United States" - a seemingly impossible task.

Irish Independent

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