President Donald Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen, 52, has been sentenced to three years in prison for financial crimes and lying to congress.
U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III said Wednesday that Cohen deserved a harsh punishment for crimes including tax evasion, lying to Congress and arranging illicit payments to silence women who posed a risk to Trump’s presidential campaign.
The judge rejected arguments by Cohen’s lawyers that he should be spared jail time because he cooperated in multiple federal investigations involving Trump, NBC News reports.
Cohen said his “blind loyalty” to Trump made him feel a duty to “cover up” the president’s “dirty deeds.” President Trump and Cohen now call each other liars.
Cohen’s crimes included evading $1.4 million in taxes and misleading Congress about his talks with Russians about a Trump skyscraper project in Moscow.
During sentencing Judge Pauley said:
Our democratic institutions depend upon the honesty of our citizenry in dealing with the government. As a lawyer, Mr. Cohen should have known better. 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. Mr. Cohen selected the information he disclosed to the government.
Judge Pauley ordered Cohen to surrender March 6, 2019, and recommended Otisville prison, in upstate New York, as the prison where Cohen will serve his time.
In his statement to prosecutors, Cohen stated:
"Serving Trump led me to take a path of darkness instead of light.”
He also said he took “full responsibility” for the crimes he committed, including lying to Congress.
He has pleaded guilty to misleading Congress about his work on a proposal to build the Trump skyscraper in Moscow, hiding the fact that he continued to speak with Russians about the proposal well into the presidential campaign.
Cohen also pleaded guilty in August to breaking campaign finance laws by helping orchestrate payments to silence former Playboy model Karen McDougal and pornography actress Stormy Daniels — who said they had sexual encounters with Trump while he was married.
"While many Americans who desired a particular outcome to the election knocked on doors, toiled at phone banks, or found any number of other legal ways to make their voices heard, Cohen sought to influence the election from the shadows. He did so by orchestrating secret and illegal payments to silence two women who otherwise would have made public their alleged extramarital affairs with Trump"
Prosecutors said Cohen orchestrated payments to McDougal and Daniels at Trump's direction.
Cohen once told an interviewer he would "take a bullet" for Trump.