The Latest: White House says court filings show nothing new

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the special counsel’s Russia investigation (all times local):

7:20 p.m.

The White House says new court filings about President Donald Trump’s former lawyer and campaign chairman offer nothing new or damaging about Trump.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says government filings about former Trump attorney and personal “fixer” Michael Cohen “tell us nothing of value that wasn’t already known.”

That’s despite the fact that the federal special counsel said in one of the documents that Cohen was in touch as far back as 2015 with a Russian who offered “political synergy” with the Trump election campaign.

Sanders also says the filing pertaining to former campaign chair Paul Manafort “says absolutely nothing about the President” and is blaming the media for “trying to create a story where there isn’t one.”

Prosecutors say Manafort lied to them about his contacts with a Russian associate and Trump administration officials.

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6:30 p.m.

Court documents say former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort testified before a grand jury on two occasions as part of his plea deal.

Prosecutors from special counsel Robert Mueller’s office have accused Manafort of violating the agreement by lying to investigators.

They say Manafort was called to testify before a grand jury on Oct. 26 and Nov. 2. The documents do not provide any additional details about the grand jury, or what it is probing.

Manafort cut the deal in September and agreed to plead guilty to two felonies. It headed off a second trial for Manafort related to his Ukrainian political consulting and unregistered foreign lobbying.

Prosecutors say Manafort met with investigators from Mueller’s office and the FBI on 12 separate occasions. They allege he told “multiple discernible lies.”

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6:10 p.m.

Prosecutors say former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort lied about his contacts with a Russian associate and Trump administration officials.

The disclosures were made in a court filing Friday evening.

Prosecutors say Manafort violated his plea deal by telling “multiple discernible lies.”

They say Manafort told investigators that he spoke with officials before and after they left the Trump administration. But they say a review of his electronic documents shows he had “additional contacts” with the officials.

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6 p.m.

President Donald Trump’s former legal fixer was fielding outreach from Russians seeking to reach the Trump campaign as far back as 2015.

That’s according to a new court filing from special counsel Robert Mueller’s office in the case of Michael Cohen.

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5:45 p.m.

An attorney for Michael Cohen is declining to comment on the recommendation by federal prosecutors that Cohen serve a “significant” prison term.

Attorney Lanny Davis declined to comment Friday after prosecutors said in court filings that Cohen has overstated his assistance to law enforcement.

Cohen is scheduled to be sentenced next week for tax evasion, orchestrating hush-money payments and lying to Congress.

Special counsel Robert Mueller credited Cohen for meeting seven times with his prosecutors investigating Russian interference in the 2016 elections.

Federal prosecutors in New York say sentencing guidelines call for Cohen to serve about four years behind bars. They say Cohen declined to cooperate in all aspects of their investigation and shouldn’t receive full credit for cooperating because he wasn’t forthcoming.

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5:35 p.m.

President Donald Trump’s longtime legal fixer has been providing “relevant and useful” information to the special counsel in the Russia probe about his recent contacts with people in the White House.

That’s according to a new court filing from special counsel Robert Mueller’s office in Michael Cohen’s case.

Mueller’s prosecutors say the information from Cohen pertained to his contacts with people “connected” to the Trump White House during 2017 and 2018. The contacts are being disclosed as Mueller investigates not only Russian election interference but whether Trump tried to obstruct the investigation.

The filing comes about a week before Cohen is scheduled to be sentenced after he pleaded guilty to a raft of felonies, including lying to Congress about a proposed Trump business deal in Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign.

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5:20 p.m.

Prosecutors say President Donald Trump’s former lawyer gave investigators information about attempts by Russians to reach Trump’s campaign.

The information was disclosed in a sentencing memo filed Friday by special counsel Robert Mueller in Michael Cohen’s case.

Court papers say Cohen described speaking to a Russian national who claimed to be a “trusted person” in the Russian Federation and proposed a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The person offered Trump’s campaign “political synergy” and “synergy on a government level.” The person wasn’t identified by name in the court documents.

Cohen has pleaded guilty to federal charges, including lying to Congress about negotiations he had on Trump’s behalf for a real estate deal in Moscow.

Mueller’s prosecutors say Cohen went to “significant lengths” to assist their investigation.

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5:12 p.m.

Special counsel Robert Mueller says President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer went to “significant lengths” to assist Mueller’s probe, though he initially lied.

Mueller and his team filed papers Friday with a judge scheduled to sentence attorney Michael Cohen next week in New York.

Cohen has pleaded guilty to federal charges and cooperated in multiple probes over several months, including having seven meetings with Mueller’s team.

Mueller says Cohen lied when he first met his team in August. Prosecutors say that after Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance fraud and bank fraud in August, he met again with Mueller’s team in September and admitted his comments about a real estate venture in Moscow were deliberately false and misleading.

Cohen’s lawyers did not immediately comment Friday

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4:49 p.m.

Prosecutors say Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, should serve a substantial prison term with a modest amount of credit for his cooperation.

Cohen is scheduled to be sentenced next Wednesday in New York federal court. He pleaded guilty to federal charges and cooperated in multiple state and federal probes over several months, including having seven meetings with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team.

Cohen’s lawyers, in their own filing last week, said he should be spared any prison time.

Last week, Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress. In August, he admitted to campaign finance fraud and bank frauds, among other charges.

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12:40 p.m.

George Papadopoulos, the first person sent to prison in the Russia investigation, has been released.

That’s according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

The former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser was sentenced to 14 days in prison this year after he pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian intermediaries. Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team recommended incarceration for Papadopoulos because they said he begrudged his cooperation and his lies harmed the probe.

Papadopoulos took a remorseful tone during his sentencing hearing, but he has since attacked Mueller’s investigation as corrupt.

Declassified documents show that Papadopoulos’ foreign contacts during the presidential campaign prompted the FBI in July 2016 to open a counterintelligence investigation. That investigation was later taken over by Mueller.

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10 a.m.

Former FBI Director James Comey has arrived on Capitol Hill for a closed-door interview with two House committees.

House Republicans are questioning Comey on decisions made by the Justice Department during the 2016 presidential election. Democrats will also attend the interview.

Republicans argue that department officials were biased against President Donald Trump as they started an investigation into his campaign’s ties with Russia and cleared Democrat Hillary Clinton in a separate probe into her email use.

Comey was asked on his way into the meeting room about Trump’s assertion that he is best friends with special counsel Robert Mueller, who is overseeing the Russia probe. Comey said: “Note that I smiled.”

Comey said he might answer questions after the interview, which is expected to last much of the day.

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9:25 a.m.

President Donald Trump says his legal team has already drafted a rebuttal to any report issued by the special counsel in the Russia investigation.

Trump took to Twitter on Friday to say his legal team is preparing to counter special counsel Robert Mueller’s (MUHL’-urz) findings on whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russian election interference.

The Republican president says his team’s report is 87 pages so far. But he says it won’t be complete until Mueller issues his report.

Trump’s comments come as Mueller is facing court deadlines to detail the cooperation of Trump’s longtime legal fixer Michael Cohen. The special counsel also will detail the lies prosecutors say former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort told that led to his plea deal falling apart.

Manafort has said he believes he provided “truthful information.”

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7:45 a.m.

President Donald Trump is marking what’s expected to be a busy day for special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation by launching a Twitter broadside against the prosecutor and his team.

Mueller faces court deadlines in two pivotal cases Friday, and ex-FBI Director James Comey is set to appear before lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Trump has made little secret of his frustration with the swirling probe into Russian election interference and potential misdeeds committed by those in his orbit and is seeking to undermine the legitimacy of Mueller’s investigation.

Trump tweets: “Robert Mueller and Leakin’ Lyin’ James Comey are Best Friends, just one of many Mueller Conflicts of Interest.”

Mueller’s investigation has produced dozens of criminal charges and four guilty pleas from Trump associates.

Trump also argues his deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein (ROH’-zen-styn), is “totally conflicted.” Rosenstein oversaw the probe until last month.

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1:10 a.m.

Robert Mueller is set to reveal more details about his Russia investigation as he faces court deadlines in the cases of two men who worked closely with President Donald Trump.

The special counsel and federal prosecutors in New York will have to file memos in court on Friday detailing the cooperation of longtime Trump legal fixer Michael Cohen. And Mueller’s team will also be disclosing what they say former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort lied about when his plea deal fell apart last month.

Cohen and Manafort are among five former Trump associates who prosecutors have accused of lying either to federal investigators or to Congress.

The court filings will close out a busy week for Mueller as the president has heightened his attacks on the investigation.

Source: Economic Times