An emotional Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, was sentenced Wednesday to 3 years behind bars for what a Manhattan federal court judge called a “veritable smorgasbord of criminal conduct,” including making secret payments to women who claimed they had affairs with Trump, lying to Congress about the president’s business dealings with Russia, and failing to report millions of dollars in income.
Judge William Pauley found Cohen, 52, deserved “a significant term of imprisonment” for crimes that were driven by “personal greed and ambition.”
“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,” Cohen told the judge, saying his blind loyalty to Trump led him to choose “darkness over light.”
He noted that Trump had blasted him as being weak on Twitter. “It was correct but for a much different reason than he was implying. It was because time and time again I felt it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds,” Cohen said.
He appeared to tear up as he apologized to his family and to the people of the United States.
One of the charges Cohen pleaded guilty to, lying to Congress about his dealings concerning a proposed Trump Tower in Moscow, stemmed from special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into the Trump campaign’s potential collusion with Russia in the 2016 election. The other eight – involving tax evasion, lying to financial institutions and violating campaign finance laws by hiding payments to a porn star and a Playboy Playmate who claimed they had affairs with were Trump – were brought by prosecutors in the Southern District of New York.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas Roos urged the judge to hand down a stiff sentence against Cohen, whose crimes showed a “pattern of deceit, brazenness and greed.” He also said he’d failed to completely cooperate with investigators.
A prosecutor with the Special Counsel’s Office, Jeannie Rhee, struck a kinder tone, and told the judge that Cohen had “provided consistent and credible information about core Russia-related issues under investigation” by their office. She did not elaborate. A sentencing memo filed by Mueller’s office said Cohen had provided federal investigators with information about his contacts with people connected to Trump and the White House.
“He came forward to offer evidence against the most powerful person in our country,” Petrillo told the judge, according to NBC New York.