Michael Cohen, the former friend and attorney to President Donald Trump, filed a series of motions in the Southern District of New York (SDNY) late Wednesday in a bid to have his three-year prison sentence reduced because of his prior cooperation with the government and congressional investigators.
”Incarcerated since May 9, 2019 at the Bureau of Prisons ‘Otisville Satellite Camp,’ Cohen has reportedly been a model inmate,” noted a press release from Cohen’s legal team. “His lawyers have cited his cooperation with a variety of government organizations and prosecutorial offices, as a basis for Judge William H. Pauley taking a ‘second look’ at Cohen’s sentence based upon Cohen’s cooperation and substantial assistance to multiple Congressional committees, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office, and the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr.”
In a two-page notice of motion, Cohen outlined his request:
Reducing the Court’s previously imposed 36 month term of imprisonment, or, in the alternative, reducing it to a term of home confinement, coupled with a “community service” component, (2) Ordering a hearing to explore, evaluate, and quantify the cooperation which Defendant Michael Cohen provided to the United States Government, (3) Granting such other and further relief as the Court deems just and proper.
Accompanying Cohen’s filing was a six-page affirmation making the case in support of his request.
The affirmation is mostly a recitation of the Cohen saga so far—how he misrepresented his income both for tax purposes and in order to obtain a loan; how he neither provided “substantial assistance” nor “full cooperation” to the SDNY in exchange for a guilty plea but did offer some “voluntary cooperation” to investigatora; how he later testified in front of Congress—apparently telling the truth on that last occasion—as part of his highly-publicized mea culpa tour in an effort to prove his penance, and so on.
The following passage, likening Cohen to John Dean and likening Trump to the devil, works as a microcosm of the form and content expressed in Cohen’s Wednesday filings:
All that [Cohen] thought was important and valuable has since been revealed as derived, as if from a “Faustian bargain.” Like former White House counsel John Dean observed in his book “Blind Ambition,” [Cohen] thought being Donald Trump’s lawyer made him a “big man.” [Cohen] now realizes, as he walks the Otisville Camp paths, that he, in fact “sold his soul,” and foolishly frittered away his integrity.
“The conviction for lying to Congress,” the filing goes on, “was done for the benefit of President Donald J. Trump, and urged by counsel Jay Sekulow, Esq.”
This isn’t the first time Cohen has mentioned Sekulow.
As Law&Crime previously reported, Cohen told the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that he wrote a letter to Congress about the Trump Tower Moscow project at Trump and Sekulow’s request.
Cohen “learned the message to have the Russia investigations end early from discussions with TRUMP, SEKULOW” and a third, redacted person, according to secret memos authored by Mueller’s attorneys.
Arguing in support of their motion, Cohen’s attorneys also included recent correspondence with the SDNY–who are apparently not particularly interested in Cohen’s further cooperation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas McKay writes:
As we explained in our prior conversations, before you were retained by Mr. Cohen, representatives of our Office met with Mr. Cohen on four separate occasions for the purpose of allowing Mr. Cohen to provide information to law enforcement. Representatives of our Office also participated in at least two additional meetings with Mr. Cohen conducted by the Special Counsel’s Office. In our prior conversations, we also highlighted for you some of the concerns we had, based on our prior experiences with Mr. Cohen, about the possibility of future cooperation.
“We have nevertheless reviewed and carefully considered the information that you provided,” the letter continues–noting four separate letters and phone calls from November. “Having done so, our concerns about Mr. Cohen’s ability to provide cooperation have not diminished and we, therefore, decline your request for a further meeting as this time.”
The affirmation itself also highlights an interesting, though perhaps unsurprising, bit of tension between Cohens attorneys and the SDNY. The filing claims the government has a “myopic view” that any potentially exculpatory material regarding their client might be squirreled away somewhere—an odd charge to make in an official plea for leniency.
CNN legal analyst Jennifer Rodgers took stock of the uphill climb Cohen’s request faces.
“It’s very rare for a defendant to try to get a sentence reduction on his own, without the Govt making the motion on his behalf,” she tweeted. Proceeding [without government] involvement also makes it very unlikely to succeed.”
Read Cohen’s full affirmation below:
[image via Yana Paskova_Getty Images]