Trump demands stiff prison sentence for his ex-lawyer Michael Cohen, accuses Mueller of seeking 'lies' from witnesses – CNBC

An angry President Donald Trump on Monday called for his ex-personal lawyer Michael Cohen to receive a stiff prison sentence for his admitted crimes, as he accused Cohen of making up “stories to get a GREAT & ALREADY reduced deal for himself.”

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Trump in a Twitter tirade also accused special counsel Robert Mueller of seeking “lies” from witnesses about Trump — and praised his longtime associate Roger Stone as having the “guts” to withstand pressure from Mueller’s prosecutors to “make up stories” about the president.

Trump’s latest rants came three days after lawyers for Cohen asked a judge in a court filing to give him no prison time when he is sentenced Dec. 12 in U.S. District Court in Manhattan for charges brought by Mueller and other federal prosecutors.

Cohen theoretically could get up to 70 years in prison if sentenced to consecutive terms for all his crimes. But sentencing guidelines would call for any prison term to be much less than that, in the range of several years.

Cohen, 52, pleaded guilty in August to multiple counts of tax evasion, lying to a bank, and campaign finance violations.

Although Trump’s tweet suggested that those crimes are unrelated to the president, the campaign violations that Cohen admitted committing involved hush-money payments the lawyer facilitated to two women, porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal, who claim to have had affairs with the president more than a decade ago. Cohen told a judge that one of those payments was made at the direction of Trump to influence the 2016 election.

Last week, Cohen also admitted lying to Congress in 2017 by making a statement that minimized Trump’s involvement in an aborted real estate project in Russia and by claiming efforts for that project ended months earlier than they did.

In their court filing Friday, Cohen’s lawyers noted that he is cooperating with Mueller’s ongoing investigation, and that he also has met with New York state tax officials who are also probing the president.

Less than a half hour after zinging Cohen, the president in another tweet credited Stone with not being willing to “make up lies about ‘President Trump.'”

“Nice to know that some people still have ‘guts!'” Trump tweeted about Stone, who is also under investigation by Mueller.

The president then followed with a volley at Mueller, who is continuing to probe possible obstruction of justice by Trump, Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, and possible collusion by Trump’s campaign. Trump has denied any wrongdoing.

The series of tweets underscores the fact that Trump has been unable to keep his fury over Mueller’s probe from becoming public, even as the stock market reacted positively Monday to the president reaching a new temporary truce in a trade war with China.

George Conway, a Republican lawyer critical of the president who is also married to Trump’s senior advisor Kellyanne Conway, responded to Trump by referring to the sections of the federal criminal code that apply to witness tampering, and to influencing or injuring a grand juror or other officer of a court.

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., later explicitly critized Trump for his tweet in support of Stone’s vow never to testify against the president.

A spokesman for Mueller, as well as a lawyer for Cohen, Lanny Davis, declined to comment when asked about Trump’s tweets. The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

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Here's a look at Michael Cohen's allegations about President Donald Trump – USA TODAY

NEW YORK – The sentencing memo filed on behalf of Michael Cohen, the ex-personal lawyer for President Donald Trump, tries to implicate the powerful man he served in some of Cohen’s self-confessed crimes.

Filed by defense lawyers after Cohen entered two guilty pleas, the memo refers to Trump as the “client” or “Client-1” as it sketches Cohen allegations of Trump’s role in campaign finance violations and false statements that misled Congress.

Contradicting Cohen’s former client, the memo depicts Trump as far more aware of and involved in potential plans for building a Trump Tower in Moscow than the president or anyone else asserted publicly.

The memo urges U.S. District Court Judge William Pauley to spare Cohen from prison at a sentencing scheduled for Dec. 12. Cohen’s criminal conduct “was intended to benefit Client-1, in accordance with Client-1’s directives,” the memo says.

Trump dismissed Cohen’s version of events as false allegations by a “weak person” angling for a lighter sentence.

Cohen’s key claims:

Plans for a Moscow Trump Tower  

Cohen testified to congressional committees that discussions and planning to build a Trump Tower in Russia’s capital ended in January 2016, just as the most important stages of that year’s presidential campaign began.

That was a “false summary,” the memo says.

Instead, “Michael had a lengthy substantive conversation with the personal assistant to a Kremlin official following his outreach in January 2016, engaged in additional communications concerning the project as late as June 2016, and kept Client-1 apprised of these communications,” the memo says.

“He and Client-1 also discussed possible travel to Russia in the summer of 2016, and Michael took steps to clear dates for such travel,” the filing says.

If accurate, the timing outlined in the memo could mean Trump was involved in the Moscow construction plans even as he tried to minimize any connections with Russia during his presidential campaign.

More: Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen asks judge for no prison time on guilty pleas

More: Michael Cohen, Donald Trump and Russia: Prosecutors document series of lies by president’s former fixer

More: Trump attacks former fixer Michael Cohen as ‘weak,’ accuses him of lying in Mueller plea deal 

Hush money for a Playboy model

The memo says Cohen did not personally make payments to buy the silence of “Woman-1,” possibly a reference to Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model who said she had a sexual affair with Trump. He denied that claim.

The memo states that Cohen “participated in payment planning discussions with Client-1 and the Chairman and CEO of Corporation-1,” who may be David Pecker, a Trump friend who is the chief executive of American Media, publisher of The National Enquirer and other supermarket tabloids.

McDougal said The National Enquirer paid her for her story but did not publish it, protecting Trump from damaging publicity during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Payments for a porn star

The memo cites similar efforts to prevent stripper and porn star Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, from publicizing what she said was a sexual fling with Trump. He denied her account.

According to the memo, Cohen paid Daniels “in coordination with and at the direction of Client-1, and others within the Company,” a reference to The Trump Organization.

Follow USA TODAY reporter Kevin McCoy on Twitter: @kmccoynyc

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