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Michael Cohen, President Trump’s Former Personal Attorney, Sentenced to 3 Years in Prison

A federal judge sentenced Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, to three years in prison for a series of charges for various crimes, including tax evasion, campaign finance violations and lying to Congress.

Before sentencing Cohen, Judge William Pauley said “Cohen pled guilty to a veritable smorgasbord of fraudulent conduct” and had “lost his moral compass,” adding that “as a lawyer, Mr. Cohen should have known better.”

According to ABC News, in addition to serving three years in prison, Cohen is required to pay $1.39 million in restitution, $500,000 in forfeiture for his campaign and finance crimes and $50,000 for lying to Congress.

Pauley explained to Cohen that the fine for lying to Congress was meant “to recognize the gravity of the harm of lying to Congress in matters of national importance.” In addition, two out of Cohen’s 36-month sentence are tied to his lying to Congress charge, Politico reports.

While Cohen did not receive the four or more years that federal prosecutors wanted, his sentence is the biggest punishment as of yet in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The longtime Trump lawyer, who was once in the president’s innermost circle, had declared in the past that he would “take a bullet for the president” and “never walk away.” But when FBI agents raided his home, office and hotel room, Cohen turned on his former boss and began to cooperate in investigations targeted at Trump and the Trump campaign, including Mueller’s investigation.

Earlier this summer, Cohen seemed to signal a shift in his legal strategy, as well as a shift in relationship with Trump, telling ABC News that he would “put family and country” before Trump.

In the courtroom Wednesday, Cohen was visibly upset, and choked up while reading a printed statement.

“Today is the day that I am getting my freedom back,” Cohen told the judge. “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.”

Referring to Trump’s recent comment that his former personal attorney was “weak,” Cohen noted that his former boss was correct, but that his “weakness was a blind loyalty to Donald Trump.”

“Time and time again I felt it as my duty to cover up his dirty deeds,” Cohen said, with his family present in the courtroom.

Before receiving his sentence, Cohen accused Trump of causing him to “follow a path of darkness rather than light.”

Guy Petrillo, Cohen’s attorney, argued that he “came forward to offer evidence against the most powerful person in the country,” adding that Cohen received “threats” because of his cooperation with the investigations, ABC News reports.

Although the special counsel’s office appeared to be willing to give credit to Cohen for his cooperation, prosecutors from the Southern District of New York took a tougher stance.

Jeannie Rhee, a prosecutor from the special counsel’s office, said Cohen had provided “wide ranging and helpful” information in regards to the Russia probe, but did not inflate the value of that information. Nicolas Roos, a prosecutor with the Southern District of New York, said that Cohen “didn’t come anywhere close to assisting this office in an investigation, adding that “the charges portray a pattern of deception, of brazenness and of greed.”

Minutes after Cohen was sentenced, Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s current attorney, noted the length of the sentence in comparison to other involved in the Russia probe and called Cohen a liar.

“This is the first real criminal sentence,” Giuliani told Politico. “I have no idea if it’s the right one or not, but I do know he’s proven to be a consummate liar who has lied at all stages of his situation.”

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), said he hopes Cohen’s sentencing will encourage other to “come clean.”

“Cohen is one of the only individuals who lived in Donald Trump’s personal, political and financial worlds,” Swalwell said. “I would like to see Michael Cohen come clean, wholly before Congress, about what the president knew and what he was doing politically and financially with the Russians. I would like to hear from him. Just for the country’s sake.”

Cohen has been ordered to report to prison on March 6, 2019.

Emily has also authored political articles for Restless Magazine and numerous inspirational and empowering pieces for Project Wednesday. When she isn't writing, she can be found flying off to her next adventure, attempting new recipes, listening to one of her infinite playlists on Spotify, or cuddling with her dogs. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter @emilycveith.
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