Michael Cohen sentencing: Trump’s former lawyer ‘to state publicly all he knows about president’

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Michael Cohen has warned that he has more to say about what he called the ”dirty deeds” of Donald Trump as the president’s former lawyer and fixer was sentenced to three years in prison for facilitating payments to two women who have had alleged affairs with Mr Trump.

Cohen was sentenced to 36 months for tax fraud and for his role in the payment of hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels and the former Playboy model Karen McDougal. Both say they had affairs with Mr Trump before the 2016 presidential election. The judge in a district court in New York also handed Cohen an extra two months for lying to Congress about a proposed Trump Tower project in Russia.

The payments have implicated Mr Trump directly in criminal conduct according to a court filing from prosecutors last week, which said that Cohen was working in coordination with the president.

Cohen’s adviser Lanny Davis, who was his attorney for the case, said after the sentencing that Cohen will disclose more information concerning Mr Trump, once Robert Mueller wraps up his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election and possible collusion with Trump campaign officials.

“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,” Mr Davis said in a statement.

“Mr Trump’s repeated lies cannot contradict stubborn facts,” Mr Davis added.

Cohen is due to surrender and begin his sentence on 6 March 2019. He must also forfeit $500,000 (£395,000) restitute $1.4m (£1.1m) and pay a $50,000 (£39,500) fine. He had pleaded guilty to the charges against him.

US district judge William H Pauley III said Cohen deserved a harsh punishment for crimes including tax evasion, lying to Congress and arranging the illicit payments to silence women who posed a risk to Trump’s presidential campaign.

“While Mr Cohen pledges to help in further investigations that is not something the court can consider now,” the judge added.

The sentencing capped a stunning about-face for Cohen who had previously said he would “take a bullet” for the president.

In an emotional statement to court which included tears, Cohen described his disillusionment with Trump and that he had committed his crimes out of “blind loyalty” to the president.

“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 said. “I know now, in fact, there is little to be admired.”

“It was my own weakness and a blind loyalty to this man that led me to choose a path of darkness over light,” Cohen said. “I felt it was my duty to cover up his own dirty deeds,” referring to Mr Trump.

As the sentence was imposed Cohen stood and faced the judge before sitting with his head in his hands and then exchanging hugs with his family, including his son and daughter who sobbed at the sentence.

Federal prosecutors in New York alleged that Cohen, just before the November 2016 election, paid Ms Daniels $130,000 (£102,000) and helped arrange a $150,000 (£118,000) payment to Ms McDougal so the women would keep quiet. Mr Trump has denied the alleged affairs.

Federal law requires that the contribution of “anything of value” to a campaign must be disclosed, and an individual donation cannot exceed $2,700 (£2,100).

After the sentencing, the New York prosecutors also announced that the publisher of the National Enquirer tabloid newspaper has struck a deal to avoid charges over its role in paying hush money to Ms McDougal.

As part of the deal, publisher American Media Inc (AMI) admitted that it made the $150,000 payment to Ms McDougal, “in concert” with Mr Trump’s presidential campaign to make sure her story was not published and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. It marked another potentially worrisome legal development for the president.

In a tweet, prominent supreme court lawyer Neal Katyal also called the sentence for Cohen “bad news for Trump”.

“In most jurisdictions, subordinates who carry out felonies at the direction of their boss get lower criminal sentences than the boss,” Mr Katyal said.

The judge rejected arguments by Cohen’s lawyers that he should be spared jail time because he cooperated in investigations involving Mr Trump.

The New York federal prosecutors who handled the tax and payments case said Cohen had not entered a full cooperation deal with them and so should face a “substantial term of imprisonment”. However, in a separate filing Mr Mueller’s team had asked the judge to give consideration to Cohen’s work with them, saying it went to the crux of the investigation into potential collusion.

Judge Pauley said Cohen’s cooperation with prosecutors “does not wipe the slate clean” of his crimes, and that Cohen “appears to have lost his moral compass”.

He added that Mr Trump’s former lawyer “should have known better” than to dodge taxes, lie to Congress and violate campaign finance laws.

Addressing the court, the judge equated Cohen’s actions to ”a veritable smorgasbord of fraudulent conduct”.

Cohen’s crimes included evading $1.4m (£1.1m) in taxes and misleading Congress about his talks with Russians about the Trump skyscraper project in Moscow.

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 Mr Trump clinched the Republican nomination. The project never went ahead.

Mr Trump denied the payments to the women were campaign contributions earlier this week. “If it were, it’s only civil, and even if it’s only civil, there was no violation based on what we did,” he said.

Mr Trump has called for a tough sentence for Cohen, whom he labelled a liar.

Mr Trump has denied any collusion with Russia and has accused Mr 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 Mr Trump.

Michael Avenatti, Ms Daniels’ lawyer, attended the sentencing and said 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,” he added.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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