NEW YORK — Michael Cohen, the disgraced ex-lawyer of President Donald Trump, wants a federal judge to reduce his three-year prison term because he’s cooperated with law enforcement and congressional committees.
The request to cut Cohen’s sentence to about a year came Wednesday in filings in Manhattan federal court accusing U.S. Attorney General William Barr and the Department of Justice of ignoring Cohen’s offers of incriminating evidence against Trump.
“As we perceive it, the government has acted in bad faith to stymie fair consideration of … good faith post-sentence cooperation” from Cohen “by the government’s unilateral decision to shut down its investigation of all matters Trump,” Roger Adler, Cohen’s attorney, wrote in a legal affirmation.
Asking for a hearing from U.S. District Court Judge William Pauley, who sentenced Cohen, Adler argued that Manhattan federal prosecutors have closed their “litigative ‘eyes and ears,’ and then told Cohen he has provided no relevant cooperation worthy of investigative followup.”
The Department of Justice and the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office declined to comment.
Federal prosecutors told attorneys for Cohen last month they were not interested in receiving more information from him. In Wednesday’s filings, Cohen’s legal team included an email from prosecutors stating they have “concerns about Mr. Cohen’s ability to provide cooperation.”
Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer and all-around fixer of difficult situations, was sentenced in December 2018. He was the first member of the former real estate developer and reality TV star’s inner circle to head to prison.
The historically pugnacious attorney, who has since been disbarred, pleaded guilty to coordinating payoffs to buy the silence of adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal.
The women said they had sexual affairs with Trump before he was elected. Cohen insisted he acted at the direction of Trump, who has denied the affairs.
Cohen “thought being Donald Trump’s lawyer made him a ‘big man,'” a court filing states. But he “now realizes as he walks the Otisville Camp paths, that he, in fact, ‘sold his soul,’ and foolishly frittered away his integrity.”
Trump has accused Cohen of lying about him in order to win leniency for his own crimes, which included campaign finance violations, lying to Congress, and tax evasion charges unrelated to the president.
Manhattan federal prosecutors argued before and during Cohen’s sentencing that he sought to cooperate and provide information about some issues, but not others. They refused to accept partial offers, arguing all cooperators must come clean about the full extent of all crimes they know about.
Nonetheless, Cohen argued in a separate legal affirmation that he voluntarily cooperated with federal and state authorities, as well as congressional committees, from the time of his sentencing until he surrendered to head to a federal prison camp north of New York City in May.
Cohen said in his filing those authorities included former Special Counsel Robert Mueller, whose investigation found no evidence that Trump’s campaign colluded with Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Cohen said he cooperated with the New York Attorney General’s Office, which investigated and ultimately shut down Trump’s charitable foundation over a series of violations, and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, which is seeking access to Trump’s tax returns for an investigation focused on how Trump’s company accounted for the hush money payments.
Cohen also said he provided information to congressional committees involved in the Trump impeachment proceeding. Adler said he pressed Manhattan federal prosecutors for weeks before they agreed to consider a Nov. 1 phone offer and a Nov. 7 letter summarizing the information Cohen could provide.
And Cohen said he provided information to congressional committees involved in the Trump impeachment proceedings, and he offered to provide information to Manhattan federal prosecutors.
Adler argued a new court hearing is required to evaluate Cohen’s cooperation and determine whether he merits a reduced sentence.
Contending that Cohen will have served nearly a third of his prison term by the time the judge rules on the matter, Adler asked for a sentence of one year and a day or an alternative that would enable Cohen to serve the rest of his sentence under home detention.
Contributing: Savannah Behrmann, Bart Jansen