Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, was sentenced Wednesday to three years in prison for an array of crimes that included arranging the payment of hush money to two women that he said was done at the direction of Trump.
The New York lawyer notably once vowed he would “take a bullet” for Trump.
Before being sentenced today, Michael Cohen delivered a blistering attack on his former boss.
Cohen told the judge just that it was his loyalty to Trump that led him astray.
“It was my blind loyalty to this man that led me to take a path of darkness instead of light,” he said.
“I felt it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds,” he added as he pleaded for leniency before US District Judge William H. Pauley III.
The AP reported that Cohen’s lawyers had argued for leniency, saying he decided to cooperate with investigators rather than hold out for a possible pardon.
“He came forward to offer evidence against the most powerful person in our country,” Cohen’s lawyer, Guy Petrillo, told the judge during the hearing.
Cohen, 52, pleaded guilty in August to evading $1.4 million in taxes related to his personal businesses. In the part of the case with greater political repercussions, he also admitted breaking campaign finance laws in arranging payments in the waning days of the 2016 election to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal, both of whom said they had sexual encounters with Trump.
Cohen became the first — and so far, only —member of Trump’s circle during two years of investigations to go into open court and implicate the president in a crime, though whether a president can be prosecuted is a matter of legal dispute.
Last month, Cohen also pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about Trump’s business dealings in Russia. He admitted hiding the fact that he was negotiating a proposal to build a Trump skyscraper in Moscow well into the presidential campaign. He said he lied out of devotion to Trump, who had insisted during the campaign that he had no business ties whatsoever to Russia.
The sentence was the culmination of a spectacular rise and fast fall of a lawyer who attached himself to the fortunes of his biggest client, helped him get elected president, then turned on him, cooperating with two interconnected investigations: one run by federal prosecutors in New York, the other by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is looking into Russian efforts to influence the race for the White House.
At the sentencing hearing, a prosecutor in Mueller’s office, Jeannie Rhee, said Cohen has “sought to tell us the truth and that is of the utmost value to us.”
“He has provided consistent and credible information about core Russia-related issues under investigation,” she said without elaborating.
It remains to be seen how much damage Cohen’s cooperation will do to Trump. Legal experts said Cohen could get his sentence reduced if he strikes a deal with prosecutors to tell them more.
The defense team said Cohen’s tax crimes were unsophisticated, and his campaign violations and lies to lawmakers were motivated by overenthusiasm for Trump, rather than any nefarious intent.