Former Trump lAwyer Cohen gets 3 yeArs in prison
Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s one-time fixer, was sentenced Wednesday to three years in prison for crimes that included arranging the payment of hush money during the presidential campaign to conceal his boss’ alleged sexual affairs, telling a judge that “blind loyalty” led him to cover up Trump’s “dirty deeds.”
Separately, the legal and political peril surrounding Trump appeared to deepen when prosecutors
COHEN SENTENCED IN HUSH-MONEY SEX SCANDAL, AS ADMISSION BY TABLOID DRAWS TRUMP DEEPER
announced that another piece of the investigation had fallen into place: The parent company of the National Enquirer acknowledged dispensing some of the hush money in concert with the Trump campaign to fend off a scandal that could have damaged his White House bid.
Cohen, 52, shook his head slightly and closed his eyes as a judge pronounced his sentence for evading taxes, lying about Trump’s business dealings and violating campaign-finance laws in buying the silence of two women who claimed they had sex with the candidate. Cohen and federal prosecutors have said the payments were made at Trump’s direction to influence the election.
“It was my own weakness and a blind loyalty to this man that led me to choose a path of darkness over light,” said Cohen, a lawyer who once boasted he would “take a bullet” for Trump. “Time and time again, I thought it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds rather than listen to my voice.”
The twin developments represented a double dose of bad news for the president, who ignored reporters’ questions about Cohen during an appearance at the White House later in the day.
Cohen is the first and, so far, only member of Trump’s circle during two years of investigations to go into open court and implicate the president in a crime.
In a possible sign of further trouble for the president, Cohen said he will continue co-operating with prosecutors, and one of his legal advisers said Cohen is also prepared to tell “all he knows” to Congress if asked.
At the sentencing, defence attorney Guy Petrillo pleaded for leniency in light of Cohen’s co-operation with investigators, saying, “He came forward to offer evidence against the most powerful person in our country.”
U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III said Cohen deserved modest credit for his decision over the summer to admit guilt and co-operate in the federal investigation of efforts by Russians to influence the 2016 presidential election, but his assistance “does not wipe the slate clean.”
“Somewhere along the way Mr. Cohen appears to have lost his moral compass,” the judge said.
The judge also ordered Cohen to pay US$1.39 million in restitution to the IRS, forfeit US$500,000 and pay US$100,000 in fines. He was ordered to report to prison March 6 and left court without comment.
The sentence was the culmination of a rise and fall of a lawyer who attached himself to the fortunes of his biggest client, helped him get elected president, then turned on him, co-operating with two interconnected investigations: one run by federal prosecutors in New York, the other by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the Russia investigation.
Cohen admitted violating the law in arranging payments in the closing days of the 2016 election to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal.
Prosecutors said Cohen arranged for American Media Inc., the parent of the pro-Trump National Enquirer, to pay $150,000 to McDougal to buy and bury her story. He also said he paid $130,000 to Daniels and was reimbursed by Trump’s business empire. Prosecutors said those secret payments were not reported as campaign contributions and violated the ban on corporate contributions and the $2,700 limit on donations by an individual.
Shortly after Cohen’s sentencing, federal authorities announced a deal not to prosecute AMI, which has been co-operating in the investigation. As part of the deal, AMI admitted making the payment to McDougal “in concert” with the Trump campaign to protect him from a story that could have hurt his candidacy.
Michael Cohen, the longtime personal lawyer for Donald Trump, leaves federal court in New York on Wednesday, where he was sentenced to three years in prison for helping cover up Trump’s alleged affairs before the 2016 election. He will also pay $2 million in fines, forfeiture and restitution.