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12 Dec, 2018 17:08

Ex-Trump lawyer Cohen gets 3 years in prison for crimes incl hush-money payments

Ex-Trump lawyer Cohen gets 3 years in prison for crimes incl hush-money payments

Michael Cohen, former attorney to President Trump, has been sentenced to three years in jail for crimes including lying to Congress and facilitating hush-money payments to two women who had affairs with Trump.

Cohen told a federal judge in Manhattan on Wednesday that he had been “living in a personal and mental incarceration” since he agreed to work for Trump. He said that Trump had directed him to make the payments to the women, one of whom was porn actress Stormy Daniels.

Cohen pleaded guilty last month to making false statements to Congress regarding a 2016 plan by then-candidate Trump to build a Trump Tower property in Moscow, Russia. He was sentenced for these statements on Wednesday, along with older tax and bank fraud charges he had pleaded guilty to in August.

“I take full responsibility for each act that I pled guilty to,” Cohen told Judge William Pauley. “The personal ones to me and those involving the president of the United States of America.”

“It was my job to cover up his dirty deeds,” Cohen added.

While Cohen did not enter into a full cooperation agreement with prosecutors, Special Counsel Robert Mueller recommended that he be sentenced leniently, in recognition of his work aiding the ongoing ‘Russiagate’ investigation. A prosecutor from Mueller’s team told Judge Pauley that Cohen had provided “credible” and “valuable” information, but did not elaborate further.

Cohen’s lawyer, Guy Petrillo, also argued for leniency, telling the court that Cohen’s willingness to offer evidence “against the most powerful person in our country” had opened him up to attack from the president. Cohen’s plea deal last month was ridiculed by President Trump, who called his former attorney a "weak person," who was lying in order to get a reduced sentence.

“For months now, the president of the United States publicly mocks me,” Cohen told Judge Pauley. “Calling me a rat and a liar and insisting that the court sentence me to the maximum time in prison.”

Prosecutors pushed for stiff sentence regardless, and Judge Pauley agreed, saying that Cohen committed a “smorgasbord” of crimes, and “as a lawyer...should have known better.”

Cohen must now surrender himself on March 6, when his three-year prison term begins. His sentence is the longest one thus far secured as a result of Mueller’s investigation. Despite its high profile, Cohen’s case is still unrelated to the ‘Russian collusion’ Mueller set out to find more than a year ago.

In a statement given after the sentencing, Cohen’s lawyer Lanny Davis said that Cohen - who once said he would “take a bullet” for Trump - could still be of use to investigators.

“At the appropriate time, after Mr. Mueller completes his investigation and issues his final report, I look forward to assisting Michael to state publicly all he knows about Mr. Trump - and that includes any appropriate Congressional committee interested in the search for truth and the difference between facts and lies," Davis' statement read.

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