Michael Cohen asks judge to cut his prison sentence
Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, on Wednesday asked a federal judge to reduce his three-year prison term while claiming that Attorney General William Barr and the Justice Department are biased against him.
Roger Adler, an attorney for Cohen, writes in the filing that Trump’s former fixer has cooperated with federal, state and local prosecutors in New York but alleges the Justice Department has not treated Cohen in good faith.
“This lack of good faith, and disabling conflict of interest,” he said, “should not be a barrier to recognizing defendant’s substantial assistance to, and cooperation with, the government.”
He asks for a court hearing to discuss his request to reduce the sentence to one year and a day or home confinement, as well as community service.
Adler accuses the prosecutors with the US Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York, who did not support the request and have not agreed to meet with Cohen, of playing a game of “heads we win, tails you lose.”
Cohen’s attorney suggests the Justice Department, under Barr, is biased against Cohen. “Attorney General William Barr has moved both publicly, and vigorously, to insure he is aligned with President Trump,” Adler said.
Cohen has served seven months of his 36-month sentence at a federal prison in Otisville, New York, 70 miles north of New York City. Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to nine criminal charges, including lying to Congress, tax fraud and campaign finance violations for hush money payments made to two women who alleged affairs with Trump. (Trump has denied the affairs.) Cohen is the only person to have been charged in connection to the payment scheme.
At Otisville, Cohen has been working on the prison’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, CNN previously reported. His family has visited him frequently but the distance has been the hardest adjustment for the father of two.
In a signed affidavit, Cohen quotes from Shakespeare’s “Othello,” saying he now knows what Iago meant when he said, “He who steals my purse steals trash, he who steals my good name, steals all.”
Prosecutors refusing to discuss sentence with Cohen’s lawyer
Cohen faces an uphill battle. Wednesday’s filing, known as a Rule 35b motion after a section of the federal rules of criminal procedure, is usually made by prosecutors seeking to adjust a defendant’s sentence within a year of sentencing if he or she provided new information that substantially assisted an investigation. The deadline to file the motion is Thursday.
“The refusal to support a Rule 35 is a Trumpian response which should be seen for what it is,” Cohen’s filing states. “Like Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm,’ some are more equal than others, and anyone who cooperates is a rat.”
Barr became attorney general in February, after Cohen had pleaded guilty and was sentenced in 2018.
Cohen’s request was made directly to the judge and without the support of federal or New York prosecutors, who Cohen has met with three times to assist their investigation into whether the Trump Organization violated state laws with the hush money. Adler sought a meeting with the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, which prosecuted Cohen, to discuss his motion but it declined. He also asked the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office to weigh in but there is no indication that it has.
A spokesman for the US attorney’s office declined to comment.
Cohen’s lawyers are now arguing that he is the only person serving time for the payouts because of Justice Department bias meant to “protect” Trump. Southern District of New York prosecutors alleged that Cohen paid the hush money in coordination with and at the direction of Trump. The Justice Department has a policy against indicting a sitting president.
Before reporting to prison in May, Cohen asked top Democrats on three congressional committees to write letters to federal prosecutors outlining his cooperation in private and public testimony in hopes of reducing his sentence and delaying the start date. Cohen’s lawyers said he needed additional time to review newly discovered files. None of the lawmakers responded to his request. He also sought repeatedly to meet with prosecutors, but they declined.
CNN has previously reported that Cohen has met three times with investigators from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office since August as part of its investigation into whether the Trump Organization violated state laws in the hush money scheme.
At sentencing Cohen sought to use his other acts of cooperation to lessen his sentence, but that did not sway the judge. Cohen previously met with the New York State Attorney General’s Office, which recently settled with the Trump Organization over its foundation. And Cohen met seven times with prosecutors from special counsel Robert Mueller’s team. But he never signed an official cooperation agreement with the Manhattan US attorney’s office, which opposed his bid for leniency at sentencing.
Prosecutors at the time noted that while Cohen met to discuss “the participation of others in the campaign finance crimes,” he “declined to meet with the office about other areas of investigative interest.”