Mueller also filed a separate memo on Friday detailing the alleged lies that Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort told prosecutors in violation of his plea agreement. They concerned Manafort’s contacts with Trump-administration officials, a suspected Russian spy named Konstantin Kilimnik, a separate Justice Department investigation, and a wire transfer. Much of the document was redacted, but Mueller said text messages show that Manafort was interacting with a “senior administration official” into May 2018.
According to Mueller, Cohen admitted that he and Trump had discussed contacting the Kremlin in the fall of 2015, months after the beginning of his presidential bid, to organize a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the U.N. General Assembly in September 2015. The meeting never materialized, but two months later, Cohen “received the contact information for, and spoke with, a Russian national who claimed to be a ‘trusted person’ in the Russian Federation” who wanted to set up a meeting between Trump and Putin and help Trump pursue a real-estate deal in Russia. Cohen apparently didn’t follow up on the invitation. Nevertheless, Cohen provided the Special Counsel’s Office “with useful information concerning certain discrete Russia-related matters core to its investigation that he obtained by virtue of his regular contact” with Trump Organization executives “during the campaign.”
Cohen has also implicated Trump directly in the campaign-finance violations he pleaded guilty to in August. “Cohen himself has now admitted, with respect to both payments, he acted in coordination with and at the direction of” Trump, New York prosecutors wrote. Last week, Cohen’s lawyers told the judge in his case that much of Cohen’s misconduct stemmed from a “fierce loyalty” to his boss. “In each case, the conduct was intended to benefit Client-1,” Cohen’s lawyers wrote, referring to Trump.
Cohen has taken Mueller and federal prosecutors deep inside the Trump Organization, describing how he helped Trump pursue a real-estate deal in Russia well into the height of the election. (Cohen’s plea agreement last week included the first in-court evidence that could show how Trump may have been compromised by Russia while Putin was waging a direct attack on the United States.) Trump has taken notice, calling Cohen a “weak person” who made up “stories” to get a “deal” with Mueller.
Cohen has sat for seven interviews with Mueller since August—cooperation that his legal team has been hyping for months. However, the sentencing memos filed by Mueller and the Southern District of New York on Friday for Cohen allege that he was not initially as cooperative and forthcoming as his legal team has led the public to believe.
According to Mueller, Cohen “repeated many of his prior false statements” about the pursuit of a Trump Tower deal in Moscow when he first met with Mueller’s team in August. It was only after he was charged by prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, and was facing a prison sentence, that he decided to cooperate fully and admit that his previous statements to the special counsel were false. From that point onward, he went to “significant lengths to assist the Special Counsel’s investigation”—a comment that could worry Trump, who is reportedly concerned about what Cohen has told prosecutors.