Michael Cohen, former personal lawyer to U.S. President Donald Trump, exits from federal court in New York, U.S. (Photographer: Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg)

Trump Says Cohen Deserves Prison Time Despite Mueller Plea Deal

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump said on Twitter that Michael Cohen should serve a prison term for lying to Congress, and asserted that his former personal attorney’s crimes were “unrelated to Trump.”

Cohen pleaded for leniency from a judge on Friday, saying he should be spared a prison term because he’s informing on the president and his company to Special Counsel Robert Mueller. A day earlier, he admitted in a plea deal with Mueller that he had lied to Congress about the timeline for a proposed Trump Organization development project in Moscow.

Trump has picked up his criticism of Mueller since the plea agreement last week, which disclosed for the first time that Trump had continued business dealings in Russia well into the 2016 presidential campaign, until June 2016, according to documents the special counsel filed.

Trump said in a subsequent tweet on Monday that Cohen “should, in my opinion, serve a full and complete sentence.”

A few minutes later Trump posted another tweet praising Roger Stone, a longtime Republican operative and ally of Trump during his presidential campaign, for his “guts” in refusing to testify against the president.

George Conway, a conservative lawyer who has frequently criticized Trump despite being married to White House senior aide Kellyanne Conway, responded to Trump’s remarks on Stone by tweeting out the citations to two federal criminal statutes, suggesting Trump’s comments might violate them. The citations were for the federal witness-tampering statute and for another statute prohibiting attempts to improperly influence jurors and officers of the court.

Only months ago, Cohen’s bid to remain free would have been unimaginable. In April, after FBI agents raided his home, office and hotel suite, he appeared headed to prison in a separate tax-evasion and campaign-finance case built on what appeared to be overwhelming evidence.

But Cohen, once among the president’s most loyal allies, turned on Trump after pleading guilty and provided prosecutors with detailed accounts of his possible wrongdoing. In court in August, he told a judge that he violated campaign-finance laws at the president’s direction and, on Thursday, said he lied to Congress to remain consistent with Trump’s messaging on the campaign trail.

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