“It was my blind loyalty to this man that led me to take a path of darkness instead of light. I felt it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds,” Cohen told the Manhattan court, describing his employment under Trump as a “living in a personal and mental incarceration.”
Cohen is a former member of Trump’s inner circle who in the past called himself the president’s “fixer” and plead guilty for making hush money payments to two women - former Playboy model Karen McDougal and adult-film star Stormy Daniels - who said they had past sexual affairs with the president. Trump has denied the affairs and any involvement in the payments.
Cohen plead guilty to other charges including tax evasion, bank fraud and campaign finance violations in a case brought by federal prosecutors in New York. Cohen was sentenced on a separate charge of lying to Congress about a proposed Trump Tower project in Russia last month.
U.S. District Judge William Pauley ordered Cohen to forfeit $500,000 and pay restitution of nearly $1.4 million and sentenced the attorney to 38 months in a federal prison, setting March 6 as the date for Cohen’s voluntary surrender.
Pauley referred to Cohen’s behavior as a “smorgasbord of fraudulent conduct” marked by deception and “motivated by personal greed and ambition.”
Special Counsel Robert Mueller is currently investigating Russia’s role in the 2016 election and possible coordination between Trump’s campaign, posing a threat to Trump’s presidency. Cohen has asserted his cooperation in further investigations.
Michael Avenatti, Daniels’ lawyer, attended the sentencing and told reporters 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.”
Trump has denied any collusion with Russia and has accused Mueller’s team of pressuring his former aides to lie about him, his campaign and his business dealings. Russia has denied U.S. allegations of interfering in the election to help Trump.