Trump’s ex-lawyer Michael Cohen sentenced to three years in prison

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US President Donald Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen exits Federal Court after entering a guilty plea in Manhattan, New York City, U.S. (Reuters)

Cohen was sentenced to a total of three years in prison for his role in making illegal hush-money payments to women to help Trump’s 2016 election campaign and lying to Congress about a proposed Trump Tower project in Russia.

US President Donald Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen delivered a blistering attack on his former boss as he was sentenced to three years in prison on Wednesday for multiple crimes.

“It was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds,” Cohen said as he pleaded for leniency before US District Judge William H. Pauley III.

Cohen, 52, said he was taking responsibility for his crimes “including those implicating the President of the United States of America.”

TRT World‘s Courtney Kealy reports from New York.

Guilty in several charges

Cohen’s lawyers had asked for no jail time after he pleaded guilty to tax evasion, making false statements to a financial institution, illegal campaign contributions, and making false statements to Congress.

But Judge Pauley sentenced Cohen to three years in jail.

Among the charges against Cohen was making “hush money” payments to two women who had threatened to go public during the 2016 presidential election campaign with claims they had affairs with Trump.

Cohen was sentenced on the separate charge of lying to Congress brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russia’s role in the 2016 election and possible coordination between Trump’s campaign and Moscow. Cohen pleaded guilty to that charge last month.

Michael Avenatti, Daniels’ lawyer, attended the sentencing and told reporters outside the courthouse, “Michael Cohen is neither a hero nor a patriot. He lied for months about his conduct. … Michael Cohen was sentenced today, President Trump is next.”

Trump denies collusion

Trump has denied any collusion with Russia and has accused Mueller’s team of pressuring his former aides to lie about him, his campaign and his business dealings. Russia has denied US allegations of interfering in the election to help Trump.

In an interview with Reuters on Tuesday, Trump denied the payments were campaign contributions. “If it were, it’s only civil, and even if it’s only civil, there was no violation based on what we did,” Trump said.

Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani has argued the hush payments cannot be considered campaign finance violations because they were made to protect Trump’s reputation and would have been made even if he had not been a presidential candidate.

In his guilty plea to Mueller’s charge, Cohen admitted he lied to Congress about the timeline for discussions about plans for real estate businessman Trump’s proposed skyscraper in Moscow. The project was never built.

Cohen said in written testimony to two congressional committees that the talks ended in January 2016, before the first electoral contests to select the Republican presidential nominee, when they actually continued until June 2016 after Trump clinched the Republican nomination.

Source: AFP
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