Michael Cohen offers Democrats 14 million files on Donald Trump in bid to delay prison sentence

Cohen's legal team argues their client needs substantial time to sift through the recently-accessed files

Published April 5, 2019 10:55AM (EDT)

Donald Trump; Michael Cohen (AP/Getty/Salon)
Donald Trump; Michael Cohen (AP/Getty/Salon)

Michael Cohen, the attorney who spent many years working as President Donald Trump's personal "fixer," claims to have recently uncovered millions of new files that could be of interest to lawmakers investigating the president.

Lawyers for Cohen told House Democrats in a letter Thursday that their client recently gained access to a trove of documents seized in a highly-publicized FBI raid of his home and office in April 2018, and he could help their investigations into Trump in exchange for their help in persuading prosecutors to delay his prison sentence. They contended Cohen would need substantial time to sift through the 14 million files from his computers and phones, including emails, voice recordings, images and other documents, and time is running out before his three-year prison sentence is set to begin on May 6.

Cohen's legal team teased that their client has "located several documents that we believe have significant value to the various congressional oversight and investigation committees" and argued their client needs to remain out of prison in order to continue going through them.

The lawyers asked Democrats to write letters to federal prosecutors in New York stating Cohen has been a significantly helpful witness and could be a valuable asset moving forward. They also asked them to note the "substantial trove of new information" Cohen could share "requires substantial time with him and ready access to him by congressional committees and staff to complete their investigations and to fulfill their oversight responsibilities required under the Constitution as the Article I independent branch of government."

"It is also our hope, again expressed with all respect, that the Southern District of New York recognizes the need for Mr. Cohen to be readily available to Congress and to prosecutors conducting these investigations, such that his date to report for incarceration about four weeks from now will be substantially postponed while he is fully cooperating with prosecutors and Congress," the lawyers wrote in the letter, according to a copy obtained by The New York Times.

Cohen's team also said their client deserves a reduced sentence for his cooperation in the investigations.

"There is no doubt that Mr. Cohen's testimony, both public and private, has contributed substantially, with documents and other evidence, to triggering additional areas for investigation by law enforcement authorities and the Congress," the lawyers wrote. "He has done so despite intense personal pressures and stresses he faces for himself and his family. However, with 30 days left before he surrenders to prison, time is no longer a luxury he is capable of."

The lawyers said they were not writing to Republicans in Congress, because they were not sure they would be "interested," noting that "virtually every single Republican member during the public and private testimony used all their time to attack Mr. Cohen personally, rather than to ask substantive questions."

"If Republican members of these committees are interested in the substantive testimony of Mr. Cohen and receiving this memorandum and accompanying documents, we would be happy to send them a copy," they added. "Indeed, we invite them to do so."

Cohen, they wrote, "is going to prison for conduct, almost all of which was for the benefit of Mr. Trump personally and indeed directed by him." "In our opinion," the lawyers continued, "there is something unjust here."

They also argued that the length of Cohen's prison sentence was "disproportionate given the particular facts and circumstances underlying each of the crimes to which Mr. Cohen [pleaded] guilty."

Cohen is scheduled to head to prison next month after pleading guilty in two separate cases. In the case brought by special counsel Robert Mueller into allegations of coordination between members of the Trump presidential campaign and Russia to influence the outcome of the 2016 election, Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about a possible Trump Tower project in Moscow he pursued during Trump's bid. The other was brought by federal prosecutors in New York over tax and bank fraud allegations, as well as campaign finance violations.

By Shira Tarlo

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