U.S. District Judge William Pauley in Manhattan has just handed down a sentence to former Trump attorney Michael Cohen. He has sentenced Cohen to 36 months in prison. Additionally Cohen will have to forfeit $500,000, pay $1.39 million in back taxes and a $50,000 fine.
Cohen pleaded guilty back in August to eight criminal counts, including 5 counts of tax fraud, one count of bank fraud and two counts related to payments he made, that were directed by Mr. Trump, to adult film actress Stormy Daniels (Stephanie Clifford) of $130,000 and former Playboy model Karen McDougal of $150,000. It was determined by investigators that these payments were made for the “principal purpose of influencing [the] election,” by hiding damaging information about Trump’s sexual relations with these women.
In November Cohen also admitted to lying to Congress about a proposed Trump Tower Moscow deal. He originally told Congress that discussions surrounding this deal had ended in January of 2016, but later admitted that they had actually extended until at least June of 2016.
In the sentencing memos filed last Friday by both the special counsel’s office as well as the Southern District of New York, prosecutors made recommendations to the judge concerning Cohen’s sentencing.
The sentencing guidelines for Cohen’s crimes ranged between 51 and 63 months. The Southern District of New York asked Judge Pauley to impose a “substantial term of imprisonment”, yet slightly lighter than the typical guidelines since Cohen did cooperate with them to some extent. Mueller’s team suggested allowing Cohen to serve his sentence for lying to Congress concurrently with the sentence handed down for his other crimes. Lying to Congress typically carries a penalty of 0-6 months in prison.
According to Adam Klasfeld of CourthouseNews, prior to sentencing Cohen’s attorney, Guy Petrillo argued that “Mr. Cohen had the misfortune to be counsel to the president,” and that “his action[s] stand in profound contrast in the decisions of others not to cooperate, and allegedly to double-deal.”
Jeannie S. Rhee, the prosecutor for the Special Counsel’s Office, stated at the hearing that Cohen provided both “credible” as well as “valuable information” related to “any links between a campaign and a foreign government.”
Prior to sentencing, Cohen took the stand with a prepared speech. Pointing out Trump’s comments last month, calling him “weak,” Cohen told the judge that his “weakness was a blind loyalty to Donald Trump.”
Cohen then teared up, before telling the court “you deserve to know the truth and lying to you was unjust.”