Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, was sentenced to 36 months in prison for campaign finance violations on Wednesday morning. Cohen admitted to orchestrating hush money payments to two women who had affairs with his former boss. The money, which Cohen told prosecutors was delivered at Trump’s direction, changed hands in the months leading up to the 2016 election as part of an effort to shield then-candidate Trump from negative publicity.
At the sentencing, which took place in federal court in Manhattan, Judge William Pauley characterized Cohen’s crimes as “a veritable smorgasbord of fraudulent conduct.”
Cohen had originally asked for no jail time, a request prosecutors scoffed at, saying it was “based principally on his rose-colored view of the seriousness of the crimes,” which were “more serious than his submission allows and were marked by a pattern of deception that permeated his professional life (and was evidently hidden from the friends and family members who wrote on his behalf).”
In court on Wednesday Cohen said, “I take full responsibility for each act that I pled guilty to: The personal ones to me and those involving the President of the United States of America.”
He went on to address Trump’s criticism of him for cooperating with both federal prosecutors and with Special Counsel Robert Mueller in his separate investigation of the Trump campaign. “Recently the president tweeted a statement calling me weak and 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 called Wednesday “one of the most meaningful days of my life.”
“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 I deeply admired,” Cohen said.
Federal prosecutors, having secured a sentence for Cohen, will now have to decide how to handle the fact that Cohen implicated the president in a felony of his own. Trump has denied wrongdoing, characterizing the arrangements as “a simple private transaction” on Twitter, adding that Cohen, as his lawyer, was responsible “if he made a mistake, not me.”
This piece will be updated.