A mysterious Russian operative and hush money: Two key takeaways from the Cohen memos

Prosecutors provided a lot of fresh detail about Cohen’s criminal wrongdoing over the last few years — ranging from tax fraud to orchestrating hush money payments to women during the campaign.
A mysterious Russian operative and hush money: Two key takeaways from the Cohen memos

A mysterious Russian reached out to the Trump campaign offering “political synergy” a year before the 2016 election, according to a new court filing.

The unidentified Russian operator offered to arrange a meeting between Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin, suggesting that meeting Putin could bring “phenomenal” political and business benefits, the document said.

The outreach, which ultimately wasn’t pursued, is just one of the new revelations contained in two memos published Friday by prosecutors before the sentencing of Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former personal attorney.

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Read: Prosecutors recommend Michael Cohen serve “substantial term of imprisonment"

The documents don’t reveal proof of actual collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign to influence the 2016 election. But they do provide a lot of fresh detail about Cohen’s criminal wrongdoing over the last few years — ranging from tax fraud to orchestrating hush money payments to women during the campaign.

Indeed, they’re far more clear cut when it comes to the president’s involvement with Cohen’s hush-money payments, which violated campaign finance laws. In fact, SDNY prosecutors pointed a finger directly at Trump for his connection to Cohen, saying the payments to women were made “in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1” — a clear reference to Trump.

Legal experts were quick to point out that the New York prosecutors had just appeared to tie Trump directly to his former attorney’s crimes.

Trump, of course, had a different take:

Cover image: President Donald Trump announces that he is nominating William Barr, attorney general under President George H.W. Bush, as his Attorney General, on the South Lawn of the White House, Friday, Dec. 7, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)