May 6, 2020 | News | No Comments
NEW YORK, NY — Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer and “fixer,” has been sentenced to three years in prison for his crimes, including making illegal hush-money payments to women during the 2016 campaign. A federal judge in New York sentenced Cohen on Wednesday for campaign finance violations, tax evasion and lying to Congress about the president’s past business dealings in Russia. He must surrender to authorities on March 6.
Cohen, 52, could’ve received about four years in prison under federal sentencing guidelines. His lawyers, however, asked for leniency.
Cohen previously pleaded guilty to misleading Congress about his work on plans to build a Trump Tower skyscraper in Moscow, as well as concealing that he routinely talked with Russians about the project during the presidential campaign. Special counsel Robert Mueller and federal prosecutors in New York both submitted sentencing memos, and each had differing views on how well he’d cooperated. Prosecutors with the Southern District of New York suggested he serve 51 to 63 months. Mueller didn’t suggest a length, Axios reported, but noted he deserved credit for his substantial efforts to help in their probe.
The sentence caps a dramatic rise and swift fall for the Manhattan attorney, who made a career out protecting Trump. In April, federal agents raided his Manhattan office and home. He eventually flipped on Trump and made an astonishing claim in court — that Trump ordered Cohen to pay adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy playmate Karen McDougal hush-money to silence accusations he’d had extramarital affairs with them.
Trump initally denied knowing about the payments, but later acknowledged he was aware they existed. The president took public jabs at Cohen once the attorney became a central figure in the investigations, even calling him a “weak person,” according to The New York Times.
Cohen pleaded guilty before striking a deal with prosecuotrs. He offered to assist prosecutors in their investigation, but refused to talk about certain subjects, The Times reported.
On Wednesday, Cohen stood alone at the defense table. He slightly shook his head and breifly closed his eyes while U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III doled out his punishment, The AP reported.
Pauley said Cohen deserved some credit for pleading guity and cooperating with federal authorities in the investigation into Russian election meddling. But that overture didn’t “wipe the slate clean.”
“Somewhere along the way Mr. Cohen appears to have lost his moral compass,” Pauley said. “As a lawyer, Mr. Cohen should have known better.”
Cohen said his “blind loyalty” to Trump led him down the wrong path.
“It was my blind loyalty to this man that led me to take a path of darkness instead of light,” he said. “I felt it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds.”
Photo credit: Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press