Court filings lift the veil on Cohen and Manafort investigations
Our live coverage of the court memos has ended. Scroll through the posts below to see what was in the filings.
Court filings about President Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen and Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort were released tonight.
Here's what you need to know:
- Federal prosecutors in New York released a filing on Cohen: The prosecutors said Cohen should receive a "substantial" prison sentence of roughly four years for tax fraud and campaign finance crimes.
- Another memo about Cohen: Prosecutors from special counsel Robert Mueller's office accused Cohen in a separate filing of lying to them about his contacts with Russia.
- And the Manafort filing: Mueller, in a a heavily redacted document, said Manafort lied about five major issues after agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors, including his "contact with administration officials."
Two different court memos about President Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen — and his future — were released today.
One was from the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. Another was from prosecutors from special counsel Robert Mueller's office.
Special counsel Robert Mueller said on Friday that former Trump campaign chairman Manafort lied to investigators about his interactions with Konstantin Kilimnik, his former business associate who has ties to Russian intelligence.
Specifically, prosecutors discussed with Manafort more than one meeting he had with Kilimnik.
There are very few public details about their interactions. But questions of collusion have swirled around Kilimnik, given his long-time closeness to Manafort and his links to Russian intelligence agencies that were aggressively meddling in the election. Mueller’s team said earlier this year that the FBI believes Kilimnik had active ties to Russian spies in 2016.
Prosecutors said they caught Manafort in lies about Kilimnik because they have “electronic communications” and “travel records.” Mueller’s team said they confronted Manafort with this evidence, and he acknowledged his lies. But besides these breadcrumbs, critical parts from Friday’s filing about Kilimnik were heavily redacted by Mueller’s office.
The Washington Post reported previously that Manafort and Kilimnik met twice during the campaign. Manafort acknowledged to the Post that they discussed WikiLeaks releases against the Democratic National Committee because they were in the news at the time. Mueller’s team said Friday that Manafort lied to them about a “meeting with Kilimnik,” but the section is heavily redacted.
The Post also reported that Manafort and Kilimnik exchanged emails in 2016 about the offering “private briefings” about the campaign to Oleg Deripaska, a prominent Russian oligarch. Manafort has said those briefings never occurred.
Kilimnik has denied working for Russian intelligence. Manafort denies colluding with any Russians.
Kilimnik and Manafort were charged with obstruction of justice in June, for trying to influence witnesses who could testify at Manafort’s trial. Manafort pleaded guilty to obstruction in September, but Kilimnik lives safely in Russia, out of the reach of US courts.
Paul Manafort testified to a federal grand jury twice in the past six weeks, special counsel Robert Mueller’s office said in a filing Friday.
Why this matters: The grand jury appearances suggest that prosecutors were using Manafort to build a criminal case against someone else.
The dates where Manafort “was called to testify before the grand jury” were on October 26 and November 2 — mere days before prosecutors told Manafort’s team they believed he had lied “in multiple ways and on multiple occasions.”
Outside of the grand jury, Manafort met with prosecutors from the Special Counsel’s Office, FBI and other Department of Justice prosecutors a total of 12 times. Three of those meetings happened before Manafort pleaded guilty, in mid-September.
After Mueller told Manafort’s team they believed he had lied on Nov. 8, the lawyers went back and forth over the alleged breach throughout November, until prosecutors revealed their accusation last week.
The White House tonight is reacting to the court filings in the Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen cases.
Here's what press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement:
- On Manafort: “The government’s filing in Mr. Manafort’s case says absolutely nothing about the President. 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.”
- On Cohen: “The government’s filings in Mr. Cohen’s case tell us nothing of value that wasn’t already known. Mr. Cohen has repeatedly lied and as the prosecution has pointed out to the court, Mr. Cohen is no hero.”
Robert Mueller’s prosecutors made clear in a court filing Friday his office has gathered evidence that shows Manafort’s interactions with Trump officials.
The filing from prosecutors Friday does not say what Manafort was attempting to discuss with the administration while he was facing multiple charges from Mueller.
Prosecutors cite “evidence” they have of Manafort’s contacts with “administration officials,” including one who is a “senior administration official,” through February of this year and in May 2018. They cite text messages as evidence, and a description they have from “another Manafort colleague.”
But here's the thing: Manafort told prosecutors during his cooperation interviews that he hadn’t spoken with the administration while they worked under Trump’s White House.