A new memo released by special counsel Robert Mueller says prosecutors are now recommending “substantial” prison time for Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer and longtime fixer, who is due to be sentenced December 12.
Cohen previously pleaded guilty to making false statements to Congress regarding the dates of when President Donald Trump and the Trump Organisation pursued a deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow during the 2016 election.
The new filings described previously unreported contact between Cohen and a Russian national and that Cohen committed campaign finance violations under the direction of “Individual-1,” who is widely believed to be Trump.
Since 2017, special counsel Robert Mueller has investigated Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, and whether the Trump campaign collaborated with Moscow to tilt the race in Trump’s favour.
Since taking over the probe last May, Mueller’s team has charged five Americans once affiliated with Trump’s campaign or administration, 13 Russian nationals, 12 Russian intelligence officers, three Russian companies, and two other people.
Here’s everyone who’s been charged in the Mueller probe so far.
Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer
Mueller released a memorandum in December that detailed more than 70 hours of cooperating and witness testimony provided by Trump’s former personal lawyer and “right-hand man” Michael Cohen.
In the filing, prosecutors recommended in a Friday filing “substantial” prison time for Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen, who pleaded guilty to financial crimes, campaign violations, and lying to Congress. The Southern District of New York recommended Cohen face 3 1/2 years of prison time and a $US100,000 fine.
The filings conclude that Cohen “acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1,” an apparent reference to Trump that implicates him in campaign finance violation for payments to two women who said they had affairs with Trump that prosecutors said showed intention to influence the election.
In a separate filing the same day, Mueller wrote that Cohen told prosecutors about previously unknown contact with a Russian national who claimed to be a “trusted person” in the Russian Federation who offered the campaign “political synergy” and “synergy on a government level.” Cohen claimed that person repeatedly suggested a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Cohen is due to be sentenced December 12.
On Nov. 29, Cohen pleaded guilty to making false statements to Congress and reached a new plea deal with the special counsel.
Cohen pleaded guilty to lying about the dates during which the Trump Organisation actively pursued a business deal to pursue a Trump Tower in Moscow, initially claiming the discussions ended in January 2016 when they in fact continued into the summer of the year.
Prosecutors from the special counsel’s office also charged that Cohen lied to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in testifying that he had never offered to travel to Russia and that he didn’t recall any response from the Russian government regarding the deal.
In August, Cohen pleaded guilty in the Southern District of New York to five counts of tax evasion, one count of bank fraud, one count of making an unlawful corporate contribution, and one count of making an illegal campaign finance contribution – which he said were made “at the direction” of Trump.
Paul Manafort, former Trump campaign chairman
Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was found guilty on eight federal counts of bank and tax fraud and pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice and one count of conspiracy against the US.
He also entered into a deal that included an agreement to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation instead of going to trial in the District of Columbia on a separate indictment of counts of money laundering and failing to register as a foreign agent.
Manafort previously faced a total of 18 counts, but the 10 remaining were dismissed during the plea hearing after a judge declared mistrial in a Virginia trial.
On Nov. 26, however, Mueller’s office said in a court filing that in the course of his cooperation, Manafort had lied to the FBI and the special counsel on “a variety of subject matters,” which could land him in even more legal jeopardy.
He surrendered to federal authorities on October 30, 2017, after he was indicted, along with his business associate Rick Gates, on 12 counts, including conspiracy against the US and money laundering.
Manafort was forced to step down as Trump’s campaign chairman in May 2016 after coming under fire for his connections to Russian oligarchs and his past lobbying efforts abroad.
Trump’s former campaign chairman is accused of committing crimes while working as an unregistered lobbyist in the US for the Ukrainian government and pro-Russia interests beginning in 2006.
Mueller charged Manafort’s “right-hand man” Konstantin Kilimnik in June with witness tampering in a superseding indictment that charges the Russian citizen and Manafort with conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstruction of justice.
Mueller reportedly began further investigation into Kilimnik in November with the help of three of his associates, including Manafort, to examine their political consultancy and lobbying work that connected them with prominent Russian oligarchs.
The special counsel has said Kilimnik has strong ties from past work with Russian intelligence and was in contact with top figures in Trump’s 2016 campaign.
Sam Patten, Republican lobbyist
On August 31, Republican lobbyist Sam Patten plead guilty in federal court for failing to register as a foreign agent while he lobbied on behalf of Ukrainian interests in the US.
Patten worked on behalf of several a pro-Russia Ukrainian political party, including helping Ukrainian oligarchs illegally spend $US50,000 in tickets to Trump’s January 2017 inauguration, in violation of federal laws that ban inauguration funds from accepting money from foreign entities.
Patten is linked both to Manafort and Kilminik, as well as the opposition research firm Cambridge Analytica.
While Patten technically plead guilty in federal court in the District of Columbia and was not charged by the Mueller probe, Mueller referred the charges to the US Attorney’s office for the District of Columbia, and the terms of his guilty plea require him to cooperate in the special counsel investigation.
Rick Gates, one of Manafort’s business partners
In October 2017, Gates was indicted along with Manafort on 12 counts, including conspiracy against the US, making false statements, and failing to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts. He at first pleaded not guilty on all counts.
Gates joined Trump election efforts in the spring of 2016, working as Manafort’s deputy. He travelled with Trump and grew close with many top campaign officials.
After Manafort was ousted as Trump’s campaign chief in August 2016, Gates continued working on behalf of the soon-to-be president, helping fundraise $US25 million for the pro-Trump nonprofit America First Policies and working on Trump’s inaugural committee. As Mueller’s probe intensified in the early months of the Trump administration, Gates left the nonprofit altogether.
But as recently as June 2017, The Daily Beast reported that Gates was still visiting the White House and working under Tom Barrack, who has remained one of Trump’s most trusted advisers.
Gates opted to take a plea deal in late February, pleading guilty to one charge of lying to investigators and one charge of conspiracy in exchange for becoming a cooperating witness in the Mueller probe. He testified against Manafort as the prosecution’s star witness in its case in Virginia.
Gates confessed to committing crimes with Manafort, and also stealing millions of dollars from his longtime business partner to finance an extramarital affair.
Defence attorneys sought to paint Gates as the mastermind of his and Manafort’s tax and bank fraud.
George Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign adviser
On the same day Mueller’s office announced the indictments of Manafort and Gates, it was revealed that George Papadopoulos, a 30-year-old former Trump adviser, had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia.
After delivering seven hours of testimony to the House Judiciary and Oversight committees in October, Papadopoulos sought immunity before testifying to the Senate about Russian meddling and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.
According to documents that were unsealed by the Mueller investigation, Papadopoulos had made at least six attempts to set up a meeting between the Trump campaign and Russian representatives throughout the course of the 2016 presidential campaign, using a London-based professor named Joseph Mifsud and a female Russian national as conduits.
He was arrested October 5, 2017, and subsequently cooperated with Mueller’s team. Papadopoulos is currently serving a 14-day prison sentence for lying to the FBI.
Trump has described Papadopoulos as a low-level volunteer.
“Few people knew the young, low level volunteer named George, who has already proven to be a liar,” Trump tweeted following news of the guilty plea. “Check the DEMS!”
Special counsel Robert Mueller previously recommended that Papadopoulos be sentenced to as many as six months in prison.
Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser
Flynn, who has reportedly been at the center of Mueller’s investigation for months, is perhaps the most high-profile person to be indicted to date.
On December 1, 2017, he pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations last December with Russia’s ambassador to the US at the time, Sergey Kislyak.
An indictment filed by Mueller’s office said Flynn “falsely stated” on December 29, 2016 that he did not ask Kislyak “to refrain from escalating the situation in response to sanctions that the United States had imposed against Russia that same day,” and that Flynn did not recall Kislyak “subsequently telling him that Russia had chosen to moderate its response to those sanctions as a result of his request.”
Trump fired Flynn in February 2016, citing an “evolving and eroding level of trust” after the former national security adviser lied to Vice President Mike Pence about his interactions with Kislyak.
The firing was “not based on a legal issue, but based on a trust issue,” Sean Spicer, who was then the White House press secretary, said at the time.
Flynn had been on the job for just 25 days.
13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies
On February 16, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced the indictments of 13 Russian citizens and three companies allegedly involved in meddling in the US political system.
“The defendants allegedly conducted what they called ‘information warfare against the United States’ with the stated goal of spreading distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general,” Rosenstein said.
The charges focused on the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a notorious Russian “troll factory” that focused on sowing political discord during the 2016 US election by using internet bots to spread fake news and pro-Trump propaganda on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, a prominent businessman and associate of President Vladimir Putin who helped fund the IRA, was charged along with two of his businesses.
The defendants included 12 other Russian citizens, all of whom were identified as former IRA employees who played a role in Russian influence operations before, during, and after the 2016 election.
They are: Mikhail Bystrov, Mikhail Burchik, Aleksandra Krylova, Sergey Polozov, Anna Bogacheva, Maria Bovda, Robert Bovda, Dzheykhun Aslanov, Vadim Podkopaev, Gleb Vasilchenko, Irina Kaverzina, and Vladimir Venkov.
California businessman Richard Pinedo
California resident Richard Pinedo pleaded guilty to one count of identity fraud on February 12, according to court documents.
The plea deal’s release came immediately after Mueller’s office announced charges against 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities accused of interfering in the 2016 US election by mounting an elaborate and multi-faceted social media influence operation meant to sow political discord during and after the race.
According to the statement of offence, Pinedo ran a company called “Auction Essistance,” which offered services meant to get around the security requirements set by online payment companies like eBay, PayPal, and Amazon. Auction Essistance was shut down in December.
To help customers circumvent the security protocols set up by online payment websites, Pinedo created bank accounts on the internet using fraudulent identities and then sold those account numbers to Auction Essistance customers, the statement of offence said.
It added that although Pinedo was not directly involved in registering the accounts while using fake identities, “he wilfully and intentionally avoided learning about the use of stolen identities.”
Alex van der Zwaan, a Dutch lawyer tied to Manafort and Gates
Alex van der Zwaan pleaded guilty on February 20 to one count of making false statements to federal investigators.
Van der Zwaan represents the interests of numerous Russian oligarchs. He is also the son-in-law of German Khan, the Ukrainian-Russian billionaire who controls Russia’s Alfa Bank.
The institution attracted scrutiny last year, when a dossier published by former British spy Christopher Steele alleged that Alfa Bank had played a role in meddling in the 2016 US election.
Van der Zwaan was charged with “wilfully and knowingly” making “false, fictitious, and fraudulent statements and representations” to federal investigators about his work for the law firm Skadden, Arps, Meagher, & Flom LLP and Affiliates in 2012.
He was also accused of misleading federal investigators about his communications with Gates.
12 Russian intelligence officers
All 12 indicted are members of the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence unit. The accusations against them include conspiring to interfere with the election by hacking computers, stealing documents, and releasing those documents with intent to interfere.
In early 2017, US intelligence identified the hacking of the DNC and the spreading of emails intended to hurt Democrats and the party’s 2016 presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, as the main pillar of Russia’s election interference campaign.
These charges represented the first time Mueller’s office directly pointed a finger at the Russian government for interfering in the election.
Announced three days before Trump met with Putin in Helsinki, the indictments were a main point of contention between the press, lawmakers, and Trump, who did not directly confront Putin over the charges.
Bryan Logan contributed to an earlier version of this report.
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