Michael Cohen should get substaintial prison sentence even with his cooperation.

Today has been a relatively good day for Justice. The Charlottesville terrorist was found guilty…Manafort’s lies came out and now it looks like they are driving for a few years jail time for Cohen, in spite of his cooperation.

Would there ever be a situation where Cohen worked on behalf and at the direction of “individual 1,” receives jail time, but “individual 1” gets off without prison time?

All I know is I’d hate to be “individual 1.”

IANAL so I have no sense of how serious person’s “X” crimes were…especially since they are white collar crimes.

All I can say, sitting on the sidelines, is Mueller seems to gobbling people up left and right.

I can see why Trump appears worried (e.g. Trump’s incessant tweets that it is a witch hunt and fake news…methinks thou dost protest too much).

IANAL either so perhaps one can come along and assuage or confirm my fears, but I’m a bit concerned that, since the special counsel is still calling for substantial jail time for Cohen, then that probably means that Cohen didn’t give him enough to take down Trump.

Skimming through the filing yesterday, Mueller’s recommendation seemed to come from (A) Cohen repeatedly and willfully turned down “cooperating witness” status which would have shielded Cohen from more penalties but also required him to willfully admit to crimes Mueller wasn’t actively inquiring about and (B) the breadth of Cohen’s crimes showed a marked disregard for the law multiple times and Cohen even reveling in his “fixer” status for Trump while committing crimes.

In other words, the guy is a criminal, was happily a criminal and refused to trade additional knowledge of his criminal activities for further legal protection. Mueller acknowledged the value of his testimony and that it confirmed other leads but Cohen gave up a lighter sentence by his own volition.

Someone correct me if I’m wrong (not at all uncommon), but IIRC the recommendation for incarceration came from the SDNY filing, not Mueller; the latter recommended no additional prison time because Cohen did cooperate with the Office of Special Counsel investigation.

Man its true that thing they say about two Americas, echo chambers, and alternate universes.

If you look on CNN this hefty sentence is a good thing that foreshadows that Trump is going down, whereas at Fox they are saying this means the exact opposite. We shall see I guess, I never really thought about it till now but Mueller probably not only takes his sweet time investigating because he is so thorough and wants to get it right, but its probably also a great psychological tool against all the people, informants, and witnesses that he investigates, giving them plenty of time to crack under pressure and spill the beans or wanting to renegotiate the terms for cooperation.

So the most serious thing as far as Trump is concerned, as far as I see it, is the Moscow Project cooperation. Most people are saying it’s the campaign finance violations which Cohen told investigators Trump is complicit in, but I don’t believe for a second that Trump would face serious problems over that, and here’s why:

They would have to prove Trump knew it was a violation in order for it to rise beyond the level of a simple fine. Obama violated campaign finance laws to the tune of $1.9 million, but it was simply a paperwork error. He didn’t intend to violate the law, so he was handed a fine, something to the tune of $350,000 iirc. In campaign finance law, it needs to be proven that one knowingly violated the law in order for it to be a criminal matter, as opposed to a civil one. Proving that Trump was aware that payments to Stormy Daniels were campaign finance violations is going to be difficult, I believe. The labyrinthine payment methods could very easily be described as discretion, hiding an embarrassing matter. Especially considering Trump had a long history of doing this, unrelated to any elections.

The Moscow Project, on the other hand, could be serious. On it’s face, it’s unseemly and questionable, but not illegal. However, if Mueller can prove that there was some sort of quid pro quo between Trump’s campaign and Russian officials involved in the Moscow Project, some sort of agreement to help Trump in his election in order to help the Moscow Project come to fruition, that could absolutely be seen as a conspiracy with Russia - collusion. In the absence of this quid pro quo, it goes nowhere, but the possibility hangs out there like a dark cloud.

You’re correct and I was lazy (and erroneous) in using “Mueller” in referring to the federal investigation. I hadn’t heard of Mueller making recommendations for lighter sentencing but that does’t mean it didn’t happen.

Michael Cohen’s Sentencing Memorandums: Cohen had two Sentencing Memorandums filed on Friday (12/7/2018) located below:

The Mueller Investigation Sentencing Memo: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/5453418-Mueller-Cohen-filing.html

This Sentencing Memorandum does not recommend any particular prison time for Cohen, but asks that the Judge sentencing Cohen consider how helpful and cooperative Cohen has/had been with the Special Counsel Investigation (SCI) and to consider running any prison terms concurrently. It is fairly generous in regards to Cohen.

The sentencing memo says that Cohen lied to the House and Senate investigations and also to the Special Counsel investigators about Russian interferance into the 2016 election, and about the Trump Tower Moscow plans. The details revealed in this document are stunning in exposing the level of deceit and make it clear that Trump was directly involved, but is overall generous to Cohen.
The SDNY Sentencing Memo is here: https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/5453395/USDOJ-Cohen-20181207.pdf

The Southern Distrct of New York Sentencing (SDNY) Memo covers tax evasion, false bank statements, false statements to Congress, and illegal campaign contributions.

This document is much less generous to Cohen and recommends “a substantial term of imprisonment” for Cohen due to a “marked” pattern of criminality throughout Cohen’s professional life, for which he now desires “leniency” from the judicial system. It reasons that allowing Cohen ot avoid prison will send a message to other white-collar criminals that they can expect to receive "softer’ sentences that those who commit other felonies.

It also highlights that Cohen has publicly claimed to be cooperating with the SDNY (and thus deserves to be treated better by the courts sytems), but that he is actually not cooperating with them at all.

“The special counsel may have forgiven you, but the state of New York’s liable to be a little more hard-nosed about things.”

The real takeaway here is the actual value of compliance departments in large enterprises. Without them, the sales guys get up to all sorts of nonsense.

IANAL, but I think you got mens rea wrong in that second paragraph. Obama didn’t intend to violate the law (no mens rea), so he got off relatively lightly. Trump allegedly did intend to violate the law – not knowing the cutoff for simple fine vs felony (ignorance of the law) is no excuse.

If I, say, run a program at work labelled Microsoft Word and it instead hacks into the White House network, but I really thought I was opening Word, I wouldn’t be punished – I didn’t intend to hack into the White House. However, if I hack into the White House knowingly, but didn’t know that such hacking was illegal, I would be in trouble, since I intended to break the law. Ignorance of the law is no excuse as they say.

SDNY is still the Feds.

In campaign finance law, intent matters.

Yes, Ken Starr worked for four years and got nothing but Bill Clinton being slapped on the wrist.

Mueller has Eight Convictions and 30 Indictments.

I think intent always matters, but what you’re saying is that ignorance of the law IS an excuse when it comes to campaign finance laws. That’s interesting and I didn’t know that. Thanks!

Well it’s just a matter of whether it’s an FEC fine for a transgression made through negligence, or a criminal prosecution due to it being a flagrant, intentional violation of the law. So it’s not so much a matter of ignorance as it is a matter of intent.

OK, now I don’t follow again. I thought your cite meant that if you don’t know you’re violating campaign finance laws, you can’t be criminally prosecuted. Are you saying that, if you intend to violate the law, but not too severely, then you’re OK?

I think intent always matters, as per my examples above. That’s what mens rea is about, as far as I know. You have to intend to commit the action that is a crime, even if you don’t know it’s a crime.

Your cite seems to say that you have to intend to commit the action and you have to know it’s a crime.

In that context, can you explain your last sentence?

No, if you violate campaign finance law in a way that wasn’t intentional (e.g., through failing to file proper paperwork by accident, engaging in an activity that was not intended to violate campaign finance law but instead to settle another unrelated matter) then you would find yourself fined by the FEC.

If, however, you intended to raise money outside the bounds of the law intentionally because you wanted a larger campaign war chest, or you otherwise violated the law knowing that that was what you were doing, then it could be prosecuted as a crime.

It’s not a matter of how severe. If you knowingly violate the law over $10,000, you could be prosecuted. If you unintentionally violated the law by $1.9 million, you’d be fined. It’s a matter of intent, not severity or amount.

The problem is that your two examples are different. “Failing to file the proper paperwork by accident” means you didn’t intend to do the action that broke the law. But “engaging in an activity that was not intended to violate campaign finance law” means you fully intended to do the action, but didn’t know it was against the law.

These are different things. Legally, I can argue, for example, that I didn’t intend to steal something–that I thought it was free. That shows I lack intent. But if I say that I didn’t know borrowing something that isn’t mine was a crime, I still would be convicted of theft. I would still have intent, even though I didn’t know the law.

I’m not saying you’re wrong about how this particular law works. I am saying that there is a difference between lacking intent and not knowing something is against the law. The latter is generally not an excuse.

So it comes down to 3 years in Federal Prison and a 2 million dollar fine, plus no more 50% discount on hot wings & quesadilla poppers or complementary refills of iced tea at Mar-a- Lago.