President Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen told special counsel Robert Mueller that he conferred with Trump about arranging a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the early stages of the 2016 campaign, Mueller’s office said in a court filing, reports Politico. Cohen told Mueller’s prosecutors he reached out to Russia’s government to arrange a meeting during Putin’s visit to the United Nations General Assembly in late 2015. Cohen said he conferred with Trump about it beforehand. The meeting did not take place. The disclosure offered the latest glimpse into Cohen’s sharp turn from Trump fixer into cooperating Mueller witness. It highlights evidence that Trump’s was seeking to forge deeper ties with Russia’s government as he was ramping up his campaign.
Mueller’s vague but potentially ominous description of the scope of Cohen’s cooperation is likely to cause deep concern at the White House. Still, Trump press secretary Sarah Sanders said, “The government’s filings in Mr. Cohen’s case tell us nothing of value that wasn’t already known. Mr. Cohen has repeatedly lied and as the prosecution has pointed out to the court, Mr. Cohen is no hero.” Mueller’s description of Cohen as a helpful witness was at odds with a filing by federal prosecutors in Manhattan, who said Cohen offered minimal assistance after he admitted a string of serious financial crimes. Those prosecutors recommended Cohen serve a sentence of just shy of four years. Cohen’s sentence is set to be decided next Wednesday by U.S. District Judge William Pauley. Cohen’s debriefs with Mueller’s prosecutors produced information about other Russian attempts to connect with the Trump campaign. In 2015, Cohen spoke to an unnamed Russian claiming to be a “trusted person” in the Russian Federation who offered to help Trump’s campaign with “political synergy” and “synergy on a government level.”