Both the Southern District of New York and special counsel Robert Mueller’s office dropped their respective sentencing memos for President Trump’s since-fired personal attorney Michael Cohen just before 5 p.m. on Friday. Although Robert Mueller called Cohen’s crime of lying about Trump’s proposed Moscow project “serious,” it seems as though Cohen’s campaign finance violations in the hush money payments issued to Trump’s ex-flings Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels are far more damning.
The primary tell that this is the case comes from Mueller’s conclusion, in which the Special Counsel’s Office defers to the SDNY Court.
The Special Counsel’s Office wrote:
United States v. Cohen.”
The office said as much after asserting that they do “not take a position with respect to a particular sentence to be imposed.”
The Special Counsel’s Office does say Cohen lied when he claimed that his previous public comments that Trump should meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in a September 2015 radio interview were spontaneous. Instead, Mueller says that Cohen admitted that he “had in fact conferred about contacting the Russian government before reaching out to gauge Russia’s interest in a meeting.” Furthermore, Cohen lied to Congress when he said that planning for Trump’s Moscow project was canceled before the Iowa caucus. Yet the Special Counsel’s Office obfuscates whether these lies were covering up any improper contact between the Trump Organization or campaign and the Russian government.
The SDNY report is far more direct.
“A Substantial Term of Imprisonment Is Warranted,” the SDNY writes. “[Cohen] was motivated to [commit four distinct federal crimes] by personal greed, and repeatedly used his power and influence for deceptive ends. Now he seeks extraordinary leniency — a sentence of no jail time — based principally on his rose-colored view of the seriousness of the crimes; his claims to a sympathetic personal history; and his provision of certain information to law enforcement. But the crimes committed by Cohen were more serious than his submission allows and were marked by a pattern of deception that permeated his professional life (and was evidently hidden from the friends and family members who wrote on his behalf).”
Cohen confessed to taking direction from Trump in initiating the Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal deals in conjunction with AMI, the company that owns the National Enquirer. The SDNY clearly found this to be a violation of campaign finance laws as both deals are considered undisclosed in-kind contributions intended to influence the election.
The most damaging aspect for Trump in all of this is not that he may have attempted semi-corrupt business dealings in Moscow that ultimately did not pan out, but rather that he personally instructed Cohen to violate federal law, if Cohen and the filings are to be believed.
The Achilles’ heel for Trump and Michael Cohen doesn’t look like it’ll be Russia. Instead, it’s women who are their weakness.