Sunday 16 June 2019

Prosecutors want Trump fixer to serve substantial jail sentence

Michael Cohen: Prosecutors want him to serve a ‘substantial’ term. Photo: Reuters
Michael Cohen: Prosecutors want him to serve a ‘substantial’ term. Photo: Reuters

Ben Riley-Smith

Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's former personal lawyer and 'fixer', should serve a "substantial" prison sentence despite cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors in New York asked a judge to sentence Cohen to a "substantial term of imprisonment" for paying an adult film star hush money on Mr Trump's behalf, and for evading taxes.

Cohen pleaded guilty to the charges in August.

He has been cooperating with Mr Mueller's probe into possible collusion between Russia and Mr Trump's 2016 election campaign.

Cohen also pleaded guilty last week to a separate charge brought by Mr Mueller's office that he lied to Congress about discussions over the construction of a proposed Trump Organisation skyscraper in Moscow.

In a separate recommendation yesterday, Mr Mueller said Cohen should serve no extra jail time for that offence.

Cohen is scheduled to be sentenced next Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Mr Trump announced he will nominate William Barr as attorney general after he fired Jeff Sessions last month.

The role includes overseeing the investigation into Russian election meddling that continues to blight his presidency.

Mr Barr (68) held the position for two years under George W Bush, the former US president, and has voiced views on the Russia probe and other key areas which chime with Mr Trump's stances.

There was also speculation that John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, could soon be on his way out, though there has been no announcement yet.

Mr Barr's appointment will have a significant impact on the Russia probe being led by Robert Mueller, the special counsel appointed last May.

Major moves proposed by Mr Mueller, such as bringing criminal indictments, will have to be approved by Mr Barr once he is in place.

What happens to Mr Mueller's final report will also be up to the new attorney general.

President Trump yesterday hit out at Rex Tillerson, his former Secretary of State, calling him "dumb as a rock" and "lazy as hell" after he criticisied the president in an interview.

Mr Tillerson, who the president fired in March, had earlier claimed the president repeatedly wanted to violate the law, did not like reading, and was "undisciplined".

In response, Mr Trump tweeted yesterday: "Rex Tillerson, didn't have the mental capacity needed. He was dumb as a rock and I couldn't get rid of him fast enough. He was lazy as hell. Now it is a whole new ballgame, great spirit at State!"

Irish Independent

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