Politics

Michael Cohen meets with Manhattan DA for 8th time in wide-ranging Trump criminal probe

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Key Points
  • Michael Cohen, former personal lawyer for Donald Trump, met for the eighth time with top officials in the Manhattan District Attorney's office.
  • DA Cyrus Vance Jr. and his investigators are conducting a sprawling criminal probe of the former president, his Trump Organization and related people.
  • The Supreme Court recently allowed Vance to access years' worth of Trump's tax returns and other financial records.
Michael Cohen exits the Manhattan district attorney’s office on March 19, 2021 in New York City.
Michael M. Santiago | Getty Images

Michael Cohen, a former personal lawyer for Donald Trump, met Friday for the eighth time with top officials from the Manhattan District Attorney's office, who are conducting a sprawling criminal probe of the former president, his company and others in his orbit.

Cohen's in-person meeting came less than two weeks after he last met with District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., recently deputized prosecutor Mark Pomerantz and others via video conference.

A source familiar with Friday's session said that Cohen, who has cooperated with Vance's probe since 2018, is expected to return for another meeting with investigators.

Cohen spoke positively about his meeting.

"It was another productive, fact-finding interview by the district attorney and Mark Pomerantz ... as they continue to investigate Mr. Trump, his children, the Trump Organization, [Trump CFO] Allen Weisselberg, his children and others for various crimes," Cohen told CNBC.

He was accompanied to the meeting in lower Manhattan by Lanny Davis, the Washington lawyer and Democratic public relations maven who has helped Cohen in the years since the Manhattan resident fell out with Trump.

"Lanny Davis was good enough to take the time and join me this morning in person instead of by Zoom from Washington," Cohen said.

Vance spokesman Danny Frost declined to comment.

The meeting came days after federal prosecutors filed papers in U.S. District Court in Manhattan arguing against Cohen's legal bid to have his criminal sentence, now being served in home confinement, be deemed satisfied or nearly satisfied.

Vance last month obtained eight years' worth of Trump's income tax returns and other financial records from an accounting firm after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a last-ditch effort by Trump to block a grand jury subpoena for that information.

Michael Cohen pauses while speaking with members of the media after leaving the Manhattan district attorney’s office on March 19, 2021 in New York City.
Michael M. Santiago | Getty Images

Vance's probe initially focused on hush-money payments that Cohen facilitated shortly before the 2016 presidential election to two women to keep them quiet about their allegations of having had sexual relationships with Trump.

Trump denies the women's claims.

Vance is now looking at much more, including allegations, first raised by Cohen in congressional testimony, that the Trump Organization manipulated the valuation of various real estate assets to benefit financially from lower insurance and tax rates in some cases, and from more favorable loan terms in other instances.

Pomerantz, a former leading federal prosecutor who most recently has been in private criminal defense practice, was hired last month as a special assistant DA for the sole purpose of the Trump probe.

Cohen battles the Bureau of Prisons

On the same day as the meeting, a court filing by federal prosecutors was made public in Cohen's lawsuit against the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.

Cohen has asked a judge to declare that the detention portion of his 2019 criminal sentence has been satisfied or nearly satisfied after months in home confinement.

Prosecutors argue in the filing that Cohen's sentence will expire in late November.

Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to multiple tax evasion counts, two counts of unlawful campaign contributions and making a false statement to Congress.

He was sentenced to three years in prison but was released into home confinement last spring due to concerns about his pre-existing health conditions making him particularly vulnerable to Covid-19 infection.

He was briefly re-imprisoned last summer but then ordered released by an angry federal judge who said officials had retaliated against Cohen for hesitating in complying with a demand that he not publish a book about Trump while in home confinement.

Cohen in his lawsuit says that at the very latest his release date, after factoring in various credits, is May 29.

He said Friday that his term should actually be considered completed because of so-called earned time credits he is entitled to for multiple classes he took and work he did while locked up, credits that the Bureau of Prisons has not accounted for in calculating his release date.

Cohen told CNBC that federal prosecutors, who are defending the case on behalf of the BOP, waited until less than two hours before a 60-day deadline to reply to his complaint.

He also said that prosecutors failed to rebut his arguments for release on a point-by-point basis, as they are obligated to do under federal rules of criminal procedure, and that they cite in their argument two recent similar lawsuits by federal convicts that prosecutors lost.

Asked if he believed that the objection to his sentence being considered completed was retaliatory, Cohen said, "Of course it's retaliatory."

"Everything about my [federal] cases from the inception to the most recent denial has been, in my opinion, retaliatory," he said.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York declined to comment on Cohen's claims.

In their filing, SDNY prosecutors said Cohen's lawsuit is "not ripe for review" because he has not shown "an imminent — or any — injury."

Prosecutors said federal law does not require the BOP to apply earned time credits for any inmate until January 2022, "and in any event, Cohen is not entitled to any ETCs for the programs and activities that he completed."

They also argued that Cohen is not eligible to receive the earned time credits "for any of the courses or work he identifies as having completed."

"This is primarily because Cohen does not have a need for purposes of lowering his risk of recidivism in any of the areas in which he completed courses or work," prosecutors wrote.