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As it happenedended1544655266

Michael Cohen sentencing: Trump's former lawyer attacks president's 'dirty deeds' as judge hands him three years in prison

Cohen given jail term over tax fraud and hush money payments to two women who have alleged affairs with president

Chris Stevenson
US District Court, Manhattan
,Joe Sommerlad,Kristin Hugo
Wednesday 12 December 2018 23:11 GMT
Donald Trump denies involvement in Moscow project claiming Michael Cohen 'lying'

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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 allege affairs with Mr Trump.

Cohen was sentenced to 36 months for tax fraud and his role in the payment of hush money to adult actress Stormy Daniels and former playboy model Karen McDougal who said 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. Cohen had pleaded guilty to the charges.

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 co-ordination 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 probe 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, restitute $1.4m, and pay a $50,000 fine.

US District Judge William H Pauley III said Cohen deserved a harsh punishment for crimes including tax evasion, lying to Congress and arranging illicit payments to silence women who posed a risk to Trump's presidential campaign. Those payments have directly implicated the president in criminal.

“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.”

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“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.

To follow events as they happened please read our live blog below.

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Hello and welcome to The Independent's coverage of ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen's sentencing in New York this morning.

Joe Sommerlad12 December 2018 09:57

The president's former ally pleaded guilty in August to paying out six-figure sums to two women - porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal - in order to buy their silence about alleged affairs with Mr Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Mr Cohen is expected to apologise today for lying to prosecutors after initially saying he knew nothing about the payments in question.

Joe Sommerlad12 December 2018 09:58

Questioned by a federal judge in August, Mr Cohen said he had paid sums of $130,000 and $150,000 - understood to be to Ms Daniels and Ms McDougal respectively - after they claimed they had had affairs with Mr Trump.

He said he had been acting at his boss's request, securing their complicity "with the purpose of influencing the election". 

Without naming Mr Trump, Mr Cohen said he had acted "in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office" in the first instance and that the second payment was made "under direction of the same candidate".

Joe Sommerlad12 December 2018 10:09

In all, the 52-year-old lawyer pleaded guilty to five counts of tax fraud, one of bank fraud and two counts of violating campaign finance laws back in August.

Deputy US attorney Robert Khuzami said Mr Cohen had failed to report more than $4m in income between 2012 and 2016, including about $2.5m from interest payments on a personal loan and $1.3m from his taxi medallion holdings.

He also lied to a financial institution by failing to disclose more than $14m in debt and obtaining a $500,000 home equity line of credit he wasn't entitled to, Mr Khuzami said.

More recently, Michael Cohen appeared in a Manhattan court on 29 November to plead guilty to lying to a US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in 2017 regarding meetings to discuss the possible construction of a new Trump Tower in Moscow.

It is thought Mr Cohen could be given four to five years in prison during today's sentencing.

Joe Sommerlad12 December 2018 10:15

Ever since dogged FBI special counsel Robert Mueller turned his attention on Michael Cohen as part of his Russian election meddling investigation back in April, President Trump has worked hard to distance himself from his one-time friend.

"He is a weak person. And what he is trying to do is get a reduced sentence. So he is lying about a project that everybody knew about," Mr Trump told reporters at the White House last month.

Mr Mueller's team reportedly seized over 4 million items from Mr Cohen's home, office and a hotel suite.

Joe Sommerlad12 December 2018 10:24

"It's hard to impeach somebody who hasn't done anything wrong and who's created the greatest economy in the history of our country," President Trump told Reuters in an Oval Office interview yesterday.

"I'm not concerned, no. I think that the people would revolt if that happened."

When asked if he had discussed campaign finance laws with Mr Cohen, the president responded: "Michael Cohen is a lawyer. I assume he would know what he's doing."

Continuing, he stated: "Number one, it wasn't a campaign contribution. If it were, it's only civil, and even if it's only civil, there was no violation based on what we did. OK?"

Under federal law, an expenditure to protect a candidate's political fortunes can be construed as a campaign contribution, subject to federal laws that bar contributions from corporations and set limits on how much can be donated.

 "The stuff you're talking about is peanut stuff," the president nevertheless insisted.

Joe Sommerlad12 December 2018 10:27

For Michael Cohen, a man who once said he would “take a bullet” for Mr Trump, today marks a bitter end to what had been a beautiful friendship. Here's our profile of a man whose loyalty was tested once too often.

Joe Sommerlad12 December 2018 10:45

Here's The Independent's Chris Baynes on President Trump's latest comments and his prediction the American people would stage an open revolt if he were to be impeached.

Joe Sommerlad12 December 2018 11:00

In addition to the Cohen situation, President Trump has a number of other problems on his plate, not least finding a new chief of staff to replace John Kelly after his first choice - Nick Ayers, currently performing the same role for vice president Mike Pence - ruled himself out.

Here's The Indy's Andrew Buncombe on "the job nobody wants".

Joe Sommerlad12 December 2018 11:10

Furthermore, California Democrat Adam Schiff has warned Donald Trump faces "a very real prospect" of jail time if indicted by the Justice Department once he leaves office.

New court findings filed last Friday appear to implicate the president in Michael Cohen's felonies and the Democrats, now dominating the House of Representatives after success in the midterms, have pledged to go after Mr Trump in the second half of his first term.

Joe Sommerlad12 December 2018 11:20

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