Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen sentenced to three years in prison

Says he was taking responsiblity for his crimes “including those implicating the President of the United States of America.”

December 12, 2018 11:17 pm | Updated December 03, 2021 10:16 am IST - NEW YORK

Michael Cohen, the former lawyer of U.S. President Donald Trump.

Michael Cohen, the former lawyer of U.S. President Donald Trump.

A federal court in Manhattan, on Wednesday, gave Michael Cohen, U.S. President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer,  36 months in prison and about $ 2 million in fines for financial crimes and lying to Congress.

While Mr. Cohen’s lawyers asked for zero jail time, the prosecutors for the Southern District of New York argued for “substantial” time, noting that Mr. Cohen deserved some leniency, mostly for cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 elections.

Mr. Cohen had not entered into a formal cooperation agreement with the Southern District, though he offered limited help to prosecutors at his discretion and pleaded guilty last month to lying before Congress regarding talks he had with Russians about a Trump Tower deal in Moscow.

Mr. Cohen had also pleaded guilty, in August, to eight charges, brought by the Southern District, including $1.4 million tax fraud (unrelated to Donald Trump) , making false statements to a bank and campaign-finance violation with regard to Mr Trump’s 2016 campaign. 

“While Mr. Cohen is taking steps to mitigate his criminal conduct by pleading guilty and volunteering useful information to prosecutors, that does not wipe the slate clean,” U.S. District Judge William H Pauley III said at the sentencing.

“He thrived on his access to wealthy and powerful people and he became one himself. Somewhere along the way Mr Cohen appears to have lost his moral compass,” the judge said.

Mr. Cohen first told a court in September that he had paid hush money, in violation of campaign finance laws and on Mr Trump’s behalf, to Stormy Daniels, an adult film actor, and Karen McDougal,a  Playboy  model, both of who had claimed to have a sexual relationship with Mr. Trump.

Mr. Trump who had initially denied knowledge of the payments called them “simple private transactions” on Twitter earlier this week.

The U.S. President had also called Mr. Cohen “weak” and said his former lawyer should get a tough sentence. 

“My weakness could be characterized as a blind loyalty to Donald Trump,” Mr. Cohen told the court on Wednesday, adding that the sentencing represented his freedom rather than imprisonment.

“I have been living in a personal and mental incarceration ever since the fateful day that I accepted the offer to work for a famous real estate mogul whose business acumen I truly admired. In fact I now know there is little to be admired,” he said.

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