New York | Michael Cohen, Donald Trump‘s former lawyer, and longtime personal fixer will spend three years in jail for crimes, including lying to the Congress and facilitating hush-money to silence two women who alleged affairs with the US President.
Cohen made an emotional apology to US District Judge William H Pauley III, on Wednesday taking “full responsibility” for what the judge called a “veritable smorgasbord of criminal conduct”. Cohen, 52, was sentenced to 36 months in prison by the US District Court for the Southern District of New York. “I take full responsibility for each act that I pled guilty to the personal ones to me and those involving the President of the United States of America,” Cohen said.
The judge also handed him an additional two months for the charge brought by special counsel Robert Mueller, over Cohen’s lies to Congress about a possible Trump Tower project in Moscow that he pursued in the heat of Trump’s presidential campaign. The other was brought by federal prosecutors in New York over tax and bank fraud allegations, as well as campaign finance violations.
Mueller is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election. This charge will be served concurrently with the US attorney’s New York office term. His sentence will be the longest thus far for anyone involved with President Trump.
Cohen has been ordered to surrender on March 6. The judge agreed to recommend Otisville prison, in upstate New York, as the prison where Cohen will serve his sentence. Cohen also said he was living in a “personal and mental” prison since he started working for Trump.
“This may seem hard to believe, but today is one of the most meaningful days of my life…I have been living in a personal and mental incarceration ever since the day that I accepted the offer to work for a real estate mogul whose business acumen that I deeply admired, he said.
Cohen’s attorney, Guy Petrillo, had sought leniency for his client, saying his “cooperation here should be viewed against a non-standard framework”. The special counsel’s office “investigation is of utmost national significance, no less than seen 40 years ago in Watergate”.
In August, Cohen had pleaded guilty to charges of tax evasion, making false statements to a federally-insured bank, and campaign finance violations. The plea was entered followed by the filing of an eight-count criminal information, which alleged that Cohen concealed more than USD 4 million in personal income from the Internal Revenue Service, made false statements to a federally-insured financial institution in connection with a USD 500,000 home equity loan.
In 2016, caused USD 280,000 in payments to be made to silence two women who otherwise planned to speak publicly about their alleged affairs with a presidential candidate, thereby intending to influence the 2016 presidential election.
Trump was not named in the charges but it was clear Cohen was acting on his behalf.
The payments included USD 130,000 to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels, which the government considers an illegal donation to Trump’s campaign since it was intended to improve his election chances.
The charges against Cohen also include paying money to the two women in 2016 “to suppress” their stories from publishing in media “so as to prevent it from influencing the election”.
“Cohen was able to arrange for the purchase of two stories so as to suppress them and prevent them from influencing the election,” the federal prosecutors had said.
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