Two former high-level helpers from Donald Trump have been watching for years in the federal prison – and Trump and his camp are allegedly related to many of the crimes they were charged with.
Those were among the big takeaways after Friday night court documents were released in a couple of cases involving Trump's former personal attorney and the political veteran who ran his presidential campaign for a period in 2016.
The first, Michael Cohen, has collaborated with federal authorities since he pleaded guilty to a series of crimes this year – but not so satisfactorily, says the government, which should leave without punishment.
The feds say he still deserves years in prison, with some consideration for his help.
This last one, Paul Manafort, said that he will cooperate too, but prosecutors claim that, in reality, he lied to them, and therefore the government is no longer bound by a plea bargain signed at the beginning of this # 39; year.
This means that the Justice Department will not ask a judge to easily go to Manafort and that prosecutors could try again in a previous case that caused a judicial error.
Cohen's sentence is scheduled for next week in New York City. The sentence of Manafort is scheduled for March 5th.
Here's what else you need to know about the great stories involving Cohen and Manafort since Friday night.
Trump would direct Cohen's illegal payments
Prosecutors with the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York reported a series of transgressions to which Cohen pleaded guilty in August, including payments to two women ahead of election day 2016.
But he was not acting alone when he organized brokers to buy the silence of women, both of whom claimed to have had sex with Trump years before.
When Cohen took these provisions, court documents say "acted in coordination with the management" of Trump.
In other words, Trump ordered him to break the law, prosecutors of the accusation.
Trump acknowledged the payments to one of the women, but denied both their basic statements about sexual relations with him.
The account of payments in court documents on Friday strengthens the link with the president in what prosecutors call "illegal campaign contributions", raising the question of what action the Justice Department could take beyond Cohen's case and compared to Trump.
Manafort would have lied about his speeches with the administration
Manafort signed an agreement with the Justice Department in September after pleading guilty to not being tried in a case he was facing in Washington, DC As part of the agreement, he agreed to help the government in any way he wanted, but prosecutors say that the agreement is now off.
Manafort lied, said a deposit from the office of Justice Department special adviser Robert Mueller. The document enunciates five areas on which Manafort has not told the truth, but one that could prove to be very consequential concerns his continuous contacts with the Trump administration.
Manafort told the officials that he had not been in contact with people in the administration – but, in fact, he did, said Mueller's file. This is important because it adds to New York Times I report that Manafort's lawyer was informing Trump's legal team, filling it with the things Manafort had told the government.
So Manafort, in fact, helped Trump's legal team develop his strategy to respond to Mueller's work. It appears that this information provided by the Manafort lawyer allowed Manafort to inform Trump's legal team that he did not involve Trump's camp or the president himself.
Meanwhile, Trump told reporters that he is opening the prospect of clemency for people in Russia's investigations, particularly when asked about Manafort.
The Mueller office said in its file on Friday that it has electronic evidence showing that Manafort has been in contact with administration officials or brokers authorized to speak on his behalf.
White House: nothing to do with us
Jamie Squire / Getty Images
Trump, the White House and its legal team said Friday's news had nothing to do with them.
President and White House press secretary Sarah Sanders emphasized Cohen's admissions on the lie – in Congress and the public – and asked why it should be believed now.
"Government statements in the case of Mr. Cohen tell us nothing of value that was not already known," said Sanders. "Mr. Cohen has repeatedly lied and, as the prosecution pointed out in the court, Mr. Cohen is not a hero."
As for Manafort, Sanders emphasized what defined Trump's important absence from court documents – and the lack of references to any potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian electoral interference.
"Once again, the media is trying to create a story in which there is not one," he said.
Many hours of cooperation, but of what value?
Cohen and Manafort spent a lot of time talking after their guilty pleadings. The Mueller team document on Cohen revealed that he had met the Special Adviser's office seven times, "many of them long and continues to be available to investigators."
Manafort, meanwhile, met 12 Justice Department officials and testified twice before the Grand Jury.
But the various alleged falsehoods told by both men during this saga – those that have admitted and those in which they may have been captured because the government has contradictory evidence – indicate that there may always be an asterisk next to their name in public understanding.
Even Cohen, whom the government has tried to reward by recommending a smaller reduction in his potential sentence, "has repeatedly refused to provide any information on the extent of any additional criminal behavior in which he may have engaged or had knowledge," the prosecutors wrote. New York .
In short, it may be the case that these men know more than what they are saying or, according to prosecutors, might know that what they said is not true.
The opening to Russia started early
An important plot in Russia's investigation was the spread by the Russians or their agents to the Trump campaign, and Cohen's papers suggest that there were more contacts than previously known, and they even started earlier of what happens.
Mladen Antonov / AFP / Getty Images
Cohen told Mueller's office of what the document calls "attempts" by the Russians to get in touch with Trump's team, including a meeting in November 2015 in which a Russian citizen offered "political synergy" with Moscow.
The person hinted at the potential Trump Tower project in Russia, prosecutors wrote, describing the "phenomenal" benefit Trump could enjoy if he met Russian President Vladimir Putin.
This would not only help Trump in a "political" dimension but also "in a corporate dimension", according to court documents, because Putin's support for the Moscow Trump Tower would help the project. In the end, Trump and Putin did not meet then and there was no construction project in Moscow.
Cohen admitted, however, that the talks on the construction project continued in June 2016 and involved him in conversing with at least one senior government official connected to Putin.
This belies Trump's denials since he had relations with Russia – even though the president has since recognized the talks of the Moscow Trump Tower in 2016 – and has put the powerful Russians in a position to know the realities of those public denials.
And, as the special council office wrote, it was "material" for his investigation "because it occurred at a time when the efforts made by the Russian government interfered with the US presidential election."
Through all this, however, there is no accusation that neither Cohen nor Manafort conspired with the Russians who were leading that attack to the 2016 elections.