Trump and Cohen tried to meet Putin in 2015

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Image: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton
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Shortly after Donald Trump launched his presidential campaign in 2015, he and then-personal attorney Michael Cohen discussed meeting Russian president Vladimir Putin—and ultimately asked the Russian government if Putin would be interested, according to court documents released today.

The meeting did not take place, says the sentencing memo submitted for Michael Cohen by special counsel Robert Mueller. When Putin was visiting New York for the United Nations General Assembly in 2015, Cohen and Trump (referred to as Individual 1) “conferred about contacting the Russian government.” Cohen then “reach[ed] out to gauge Russia’s interest,” the document says. It does not explain why.

For example, in a radio interview in September 2015, the defendant [Cohen] suggested that Individual 1 meet with the President of Russia in New York City during his visit for the United Nations General Assembly. When asked previously about these events, the defendant claimed his public comments had been spontaneous and had not been discussed within the campaign or the Company. During his proffer sessions, the defendant admitted that this account was false and that he had in fact conferred with Individual 1 about contacting the Russian government before reaching out to gauge Russia’s interest in such a meeting. The meeting ultimately did not take place.

Mueller is investigating the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. In a separate document, federal prosecutors recommended that Cohen spend four years in prison.