Michael Cohen, like most people who do crimes, does not want to go to jail for doing crimes. Unfortunately, his chances of that do not look great!
On Friday, prosecutors with the Southern District of New York released their sentencing memo for Cohen’s case, which recommended that President Trump’s former lawyer face a sentence of 42 months in prison and a $100,000 fine for the crimes of tax evasion, illegal campaign contributions, and lying to a whole bunch of people. The prosecutors noted that Cohen sought “extraordinary leniency” for his crimes, and then used that opportunity to basically say he was a gigantic piece of shit.
From the SDNY filing (emphasis mine):
Cohen committed four separate and serious crimes over the course of several years. These crimes – willful tax evasion, making false statements to a financial institution, illegal campaign contributions, and making false statements to Congress – were distinct in their harms, but bear a common set of characteristics: They each involve deception, and were each motivated by personal greed and ambition. While Cohen – as his own submission makes clear – already enjoyed a privileged life, his desire for even greater wealth and influence precipitated an extensive course of criminal conduct, described below.
Cohens crimes themselves were numerous. A huge part of the first counts of tax evasion had to do with taxi medallions he owned in Chicago and New York, which he made some high-interest deals with and then didn’t report a bunch of that income to the IRS. He also didn’t report some weird stuff, like the $30,000 he made from selling “a rare and highly valuable French handbag” in 2015, and a $200,000 consulting fee from an assisted living community. Then there’s the campaign finance breaches, which mainly stem from the hush money payments Cohen made or set up with several women (including adult film star Stormy Daniels) who claimed to have had affairs with Trump.
Part of Cohen’s argument that he shouldn’t go to jail for all of this shit was that he was cooperating with the Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. This is the same kind of opportunity that Paul Manafort may have screwed himself out of by lying so much. The problem is, as the SDNY prosecutors point out in their filing, Cohen refused to answer questions about his own role and potential crimes involved, so even though he provided some “useful” information to the case, he’s not going to get a cooperation deal. In other words, thanks but bye.
The SDNY prosecutors repeatedly made it pretty clear throughout the filing that Cohen was a dirtbag:
Taken alone, these are each serious crimes worthy of meaningful punishment. Taken together, these offenses reveal a man who knowingly sought to undermine core institutions of our democracy. His motivation to do so was not borne from naiveté, carelessness, misplaced loyalty, or political ideology. Rather, these were knowing and calculated acts – acts Cohen executed in order to profit personally, build his own power, and enhance his level of influence. The nature and seriousness of each of Cohen’s crimes warrant a substantial sentence in this case.
Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel investigation also released a separate filing on Friday, this one specifically dealing with Cohen’s charge of making false statements to Congress when he lied about the timing of a project he was working on for Trump in Moscow. The Mueller-Cohen memo notes that Cohen has provided “useful information concerning certain discrete Russia-related matters core to its investigation that he obtained by virtue of his regular contact with Company executives during the campaign.”
Mueller’s memo doesn’t make a specific sentencing request for Cohen’s charge of lying to Congress, but states that any jail time would be served concurrently with his sentence for the other crimes. The memo does put into the court records that Cohen’s crime of lying to Congress was serious, but that he’s been helpful to the Special Counsel investigation since then. It’s up to a judge and jury to decide what kind of jail time (if any) he sees.
Cohen is scheduled to be sentenced on December 12.