For­mer Trump lAwyer Co­hen gets 3 yeArs in prison

Calgary Herald - - FRONT PAGE - LARRY NEUMEIS­TER AND TOM HAYS in New York

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.

VIC­TOR J. BLUE / BLOOMBERG

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.

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