President Donald Trump‘s former lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen walked into a federal courthouse in downtown Manhattan on Wednesday morning, hoping to be granted a degree of leniency.
Judge William Pauley III announced that Cohen’s sentence will be three years behind bars. Cohen has been fined $50,000, must forfeit $500,000 and must pay $1.4 million restitution. He also got two months to be served concurrently for lying to congressional investigators.
Cohen faced more than five years in prison, according to sentencing guidelines. Cohen has pleaded guilty to a variety of crimes in two separate cases, one in the Southern District of New York (SDNY). Cohen has also cooperated with Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s Russia investigation, and pleaded guilty to lying to congressional investigators.
In the first case, brought by federal prosecutors in the SDNY, Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations relating to payments he arranged for Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, in order to keep allegations of affairs with President Donald Trump under wraps. He also admitted to bank and tax fraud. In admitting to the campaign finance violations, he implicated Trump as directing him to arrange the payments. SDNY also said “Individual-1” (Trump) “coordinated” with Cohen. That plea came after Mueller referred the matter to SDNY after the FBI raided Cohen’s home, hotel room, office, and after they seized electronic devices.
The second case deals directly with Mueller’s investigation of possible Trump campaign ties to Russian election interference. Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about negotiations for a possible Trump real estate deal in Moscow. Cohen had said that negotiations for what has been commonly referred to as the Moscow Project ended in January 2016, but he later admitted that they kept going until June, when Trump’s presidential campaign was well underway. Those talks included discussions about Trump himself potentially taking a trip to Russia, but this never happened.
Cohen asked the court for a sentence of time served, which would let him go free now. SDNY prosecutors called this request “meritless,” and requested in a court filing that the court sentence him to “a substantial term of imprisonment.”
House Democrats have been focusing on the SDNY case, particularly the campaign finance violations. While current Justice Department policy is to not indict a sitting president, there remains a chance that Trump could face charges when he leaves office.
Cohen’ attorney Lanny Davis told Law&Crime in a statement that his client “continues to tell the truth about Donald Trump’s misconduct over the years.”
“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 said. “Mr. Trump’s repeated lies cannot contradict stubborn facts.”
Davis accused the SDNY of lacking “proportionality.”
“Michael has owned up to his mistakes and fully cooperated with Special Counsel Mueller in his investigation over possible Trump campaign collusion with Russian meddling in the 2016 election,” he added. “While Mr. Mueller gave Michael significant credit for cooperation on the ‘core’ issues, it is unfortunate that SDNY prosecutors did not do the same. To me, their judgment showed a lack of appropriate proportionality.”
Davis said his legal services are no longer needed.
“Since the sentencing process has been completed, I no longer need to serve as an attorney for Michael, but will continue to serve as a communications advisor,” he concluded.
[Image via Drew Angerer/Getty Images]
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