Michael Cohen asks US lawmakers to help keep him out of prison

Michael Cohen asks US lawmakers to help keep him out of prison

Trump’s former lawyer says he won’t have time to go through all his documents before current deadline in proceedings against him; letter from Congress members could help delay it

Michael Cohen, US President Donald Trump's former lawyer, returns to testify on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 6, 2019. (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)
Michael Cohen, US President Donald Trump's former lawyer, returns to testify on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 6, 2019. (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

NEW YORK (AP) — Attorneys for Michael Cohen are asking members of the US Congress to help keep him out of prison.

In a letter sent to lawmakers Thursday, Cohen’s legal team said he is still sorting through documents in his personal files that might be of interest to House Democrats investigating US President Donald Trump, including emails, voice recordings, images and other documents on a hard drive.

“To date, Mr. Cohen has located several documents that we believe have significant value to the various congressional oversight and investigation committees,” wrote the attorneys, Lanny Davis, Michael Monico and Carly Chocron.

They said Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, has been going through the documents alone, without any help, and if he reports to prison May 6 as scheduled, he won’t be able to finish reviewing the material.

They asked the lawmakers to write letters saying that Cohen was cooperating and that “the substantial trove of new information, documents, recordings, and other evidence he can provide 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.”

If any lawmakers were to write such a letter, it could be useful if Cohen petitioned the court to delay his prison report date.

This combination of pictures created on February 26, 2019 shows US President Donald Trump, right, arriving to deliver remarks in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, DC on February 15, 2019, and Michael Cohen left, Trump’s former personal lawyer, leaving federal court on August 21, 2018, in New York. (Don Emmert and Brendan SMIALOWSKI/AFP)

The letter was sent to US Representatives Adam Schiff, Jerry Nadler, Maxine Waters and Elijah Cummings.

Cohen, who pleaded guilty last year to tax evasion, fraud, lying to Congress and campaign finance violations, has already received one short delay on medical grounds while he recovered from shoulder surgery.

In their letter to lawmakers, Cohen’s lawyers said they were still holding out hope that federal prosecutors in New York would not only back another delay in the start of his prison term, but agree to reopen his case and advocate for a lighter sentence. He has been sentenced to a three-year term.

“It is our hope that the authorities in the Southern District of New York will consider this total picture of cooperation by Mr. Cohen, verified by your letter and the important new evidence he has made available or could make available to assist the government, and the particular facts involved here to grant Mr. Cohen a reduced term following the rules and procedures of the Southern District of New York.”

A spokesman for the US attorney in Manhattan declined to comment.

New York prosecutors previously advocated for a tough sentence, saying the crimes were serious and that the help Cohen had provided to ongoing investigations wasn’t as valuable or as complete as Cohen had claimed.

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