FACT CHECK: White House says there’s no ‘damaging’ info about Trump in Cohen, Manafort filings
Donald Trump‘s former campaign chair is facing allegations of lying to investigators. His ex-fixer committed serious crimes that warrant a substantial prison term, according to prosecutors.
In response, the White House said the filings offer “nothing new or damaging” about the president of the United States.
But how much truth is there in that statement?
Coverage of Michael Cohen on Globalnews.ca:
The allegations involving Paul Manafort largely involve lies that prosecutors claim he told investigators in violation of a plea agreement with Robert Mueller‘s Special Counsel Office (SCO).
A memo provides some detail about alleged contacts with the Trump administration, but it mostly talks about an allegation that he lied about being in touch with officials there.
Michael Cohen, meanwhile, still faces years in prison as prosecutors argue he committed serious crimes, including making illegal campaign contributions when Trump was running for president.
Their recommendation for sentencing covers plenty of activity that he conducted while working for Trump and his campaign.
What exactly do the latest filings say about Trump and his presidential campaign, though?
Here’s a look at the links between the information revealed in Friday’s failings and how they connect to Donald Trump:
‘…at the direction of Individual-1’
Cohen was the subject of two court filings that emerged on Friday. One was a sentencing recommendation that came from federal prosecutors, in connection with a case that involved illegal campaign contributions.
The other was a memo from special counsel Robert Mueller that talked about Cohen’s false statements surrounding a Trump project in Moscow.
WATCH: Michael Cohen departs courthouse following guilty plea
There are repeated references to a person named only as “Individual-1” in the sentencing recommendation. It describes the means by which Cohen made payments to two women who said they had affairs with this person — payments that were, according to prosecutors, illegal campaign contributions.
A passage on page three of the recommendation mentions events in January 2017, at which time Individual-1 “had become the president of the United States.”
Then, in a passage that detailed the illegal contributions, it said that Cohen “acted in co-ordination with and at the direction of Individual-1.”
This comes after Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations at a court hearing in August, where he said he arranged the payments “for (the) principal purpose of influencing (the) election” at the direction of a candidate for public office.
He was ostensibly talking about Trump.
How Michael Cohen facilitated payments to two women who said they had affairs with Donald Trump
It was around June 2016 when an actress and model — widely identified as Karen McDougal — tried to sell her story of an alleged affair with Trump.
She retained a lawyer — likely Michael Avenatti, who wasn’t named in the documents — who then contacted a magazine editor and offered to sell her story.
By that time, the chairman and CEO of the company that owned that magazine had offered to help Trump by offering to buy damaging stories about his relationships with women and stop them from being published.
Then, in October, a second woman — believed to be porn actress Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels — came forward with her own story of an alleged affair with Trump.
Someone acting on behalf of the second woman went to the editor of that magazine and said she was willing to confirm the affair. The same lawyer was representing both the model and the porn actress.
WATCH: Trump lashes out at Cohen, defends hush money
That lawyer met with Cohen and negotiated a settlement to buy the second woman’s silence. They later finalized a deal that would pay her $130,000.
Cohen obtained this money by creating a shell corporation and opening up an account into which he deposited $131,000.
That money came from a home equity line of credit (HELOC) that he “obtained by means of false statements,” according to the sentencing recommendation.
He then wired $130,000 to the lawyer, calling it a “retainer,” and received copies of a final agreement on Nov. 1, 2016.
Once Trump had won the presidency, Cohen went to the candidate’s company — again, not named, but pretty clearly the Trump Organization — and asked to be reimbursed for expenses related to the election. Those expenses included the payment to the porn actress.
The company paid him a total of $420,000, an amount that had been “grossed up” for tax purposes and that included a bonus of $60,000. The money was to be paid in monthly amounts of $35,000.
Cohen invoiced the company for these payments every month, saying he was receiving them as part of a “retainer agreement.”
The company labelled these payments as “legal expenses.”
As prosecutors noted, “no such retainer agreement existed and these payments were not legal expenses.”
A suggested meeting with the Russian president
The Mueller memo detailed the process by which Cohen ended up assisting the special counsel investigation after he lied to Congress.
In the course of correcting information he hadn’t provided truthfully, Cohen, unprompted, told the SCO about making contact with Russian officials regarding a Trump project in Moscow.
In a September 2015 radio interview, Cohen suggested that Trump met with Vladimir Putin when he visited New York for the UN General Assembly.
WATCH: Trump says Russia ‘very unhappy’ that he won election, slams Russia investigation once more
Cohen previously said he made those comments spontaneously and hadn’t discussed them with the Trump campaign or the Trump Organization.
However, during proffer sessions, he admitted he wasn’t telling the truth – he said he had, in fact, spoken with Trump about meeting with the Russian government to see if they could facilitate a meeting with Putin.
No meeting between Trump and Putin actually happened, however, the Mueller memo said.
The Mueller memo also talked about how Cohen had been in contact with a Russian national who claimed status as a “trusted person” in the Russian Federation.
This person offered “political synergy” and “synergy on a government level” to the Trump campaign, according to the memo.
Cohen said this person repeatedly tried to arrange a meeting between Trump and Putin, and said that such an encounter could produce a “phenomenal” impact “not only in political but in a business dimension as well.”
Cohen ultimately didn’t arrange this meeting.
- With files from The Associated Press
© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.