Of all of President Trump’s former associates who have come under scrutiny in the special counsel’s Russia investigation, his former personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, has undertaken perhaps the most surprising and risky legal strategy.
Mr. Cohen has twice pleaded guilty in federal court in Manhattan to a litany of crimes, and he has volunteered information to the special counsel and other agencies investigating Mr. Trump and his inner circle. He did all this without first obtaining a traditional, ironclad deal under which the government would commit to seeking leniency on Mr. Cohen’s behalf when he is sentenced on Dec. 12.
Mr. Cohen has concluded that his life has been utterly destroyed by his relationship with Mr. Trump and his own actions, and to begin anew he needed to speed up the legal process by quickly confessing his crimes and serving any sentence he receives, according to his friends and associates, and analysis of documents in the case.
He has told friends that he is mystified that he is taking the fall for actions he carried out on behalf of Mr. Trump, who remains unscathed. Still, he is resigned to accepting responsibility.
.. Mr. Cohen’s commitment to Mr. Trump began to wane after a highly publicized F.B.I. raid on his home, office and hotel room in April. Last July, he told George Stephanopoulos of ABC News he was seeking “resolution.” Asked if he would provide prosecutors information about Mr. Trump in return for leniency, Mr. Cohen replied, “I put family and country first.”
.. Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty in Manhattan to eight felonies — including campaign finance violations, tax evasion and making false statements to a bank
.. Cooperating witnesses are often not sentenced until investigations are completed, months or even years later. Mr. Cohen was concerned that signing a deal would delay his sentencing, his lawyers explained in their filing on Friday.
.. “Thus, the necessity, at age 52, to begin his life virtually anew, including developing new means to support his family, convinced Michael to seek an early sentence date, fully understanding that this court will determine the timing under which his efforts to rebuild will commence,” the memorandum said.
Mr. Cohen’s lawyers said that their client began meeting with Mr. Mueller’s prosecutors as early as Aug. 7, even before his first guilty plea in New York. He ultimately met with the special counsel’s office seven times through November.
.. Rebecca Roiphe, a professor at New York Law School, called Mr. Cohen’s maneuver “an unusual and creative way to get what he wants out of a situation that’s unorthodox.”
.. “Tying it up in a bow gives Cohen the best chance at getting significant credit for his cooperation — and a good sentence.”