Michael Cohen should receive a substantial prison term, federal prosecutors argued in an expected sentencing memo filed Dec. 7 just before 5 p.m. “[T]he nature and seriousness of the offenses and the need to promote respect for the law and afford adequate deterrence are especially weighty considerations,” the memo stated.
Cohen has pleaded guilty to several counts of lying to Congress, financial fraud, tax evasion, and campaign-finance fraud. Prosecutors suggested Cohen should receive “a modest variance” from sentencing guidelines, forfeit $500,000, and pay a fine of an undisclosed amount.
Some reports had previously indicated that U.S. attorneys in the Southern District of New York might offer a recommendation for a severely curtailed sentence in exchange for cooperation.
But prosecutors said in the memo that Cohen committed an array of different crimes that undermine several different “pillars of our society and our government”: a failure to pay taxes, an attempt to manipulate transparent and fair elections, and being truthful in business and in government testimony.
The U.S. attorneys also argue that Cohen continues to try to minimize the extent of the crimes to which he has pleaded guilty. “Cohen’s consciousness of wrongdoing is fleeting,…his remorse is minimal, and that his instinct to blame others is strong,” the memo stated.
Cohen’s attorneys had argued for leniency on Dec. 1, arguing that he had offered substantial cooperation, and should potentially serve no time beyond that he has already spent in jail. Prosecutors argued forcefully against that in the memo:
He seeks extraordinary leniency – a sentence of no jail time – based principally on his rose-colored view of the seriousness of the crimes; his claims to a sympathetic personal history; and his provision of certain information to law enforcement.
Before leniency, the sentencing guidelines range from 51 to 63 months in prison.
Cohen’s sentencing recommendation may be seen as problematic, as Trump tweeted only days ago that Cohen should receive a “full and complete sentence.” While there’s no evidence so far that Trump influenced prosecutors, Trump’s tweet and other public comments form a clear basis for the defense to appeal a sentence, regardless of whether they can win at appeal.