I would like to believe that Michael Cohen has “seen the light” and regrets everything he did on the “path of darkness” (his words) as Trump’s fixer. Like Dean before him, I think he probably is sincere about starting a new life after getting so mired in seedy politics.
But he has to pay the piper, and while he seems to have been of assistance to Mueller’s investigation, he has not been forthcoming to the SDNY about other crimes not related to Trump.
And today the piper got paid:
Michael D. Cohen, the former lawyer for President Trump, was sentenced to three years in prison on Wednesday morning in part for his role in a scandal that could threaten Mr. Trump’s presidency by implicating him in a scheme to buy the silence of two women who said they had affairs with him.
The sentencing in federal court in Manhattan capped a startling fall for Mr. Cohen, 52, who had once hoped to work by Mr. Trump’s side in the White House but ended up a central figure in the inquiry into payments to a porn star and a former Playboy model before the 2016 election.
Judge William H. Pauley III said Mr. Cohen had committed a “smorgasbord” of crimes involving “deception” and motivated by “personal greed and ambition.”
“As a lawyer, Mr. Cohen should have known better,” the judge said.
Before he was sentenced, a solemn Mr. Cohen, standing at a lectern, sounded emotional but resolved as he told the judge he had been tormented by the anguish and embarrassment he had caused his family.
“I blame myself for the conduct which has brought me here today,” he said, “and it was my own weakness and a blind loyalty to this man” – a reference to Mr. Trump – “that led me to choose a path of darkness over light.”
Mr. Cohen said the president had been correct to call him “weak” recently, “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 rather than to listen to my own inner voice and my moral compass,” Mr. Cohen said.
Mr. Cohen then apologized to the public: “You deserve to know the truth and lying to you was unjust.”
The judge said Mr. Cohen’s assistance to the special counsel’s office, though useful, had not “wiped the slate clean,” and a “significant term” of prison was justified. In the end, the judge gave Mr. Cohen three years for the crimes he committed in New York and two months for lying to Congress, to be served at the same time. He was also fined $100,000 and ordered to pay restitution of $1.4 million.
Mr. Cohen’s sentencing was unusual because it involved guilty pleas he made in two separate cases, one filed by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York and a later one by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.
In the case brought by Mr. Mueller’s office, Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the duration of negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, as well as about the extent of the involvement of Mr. Trump.
Mr. Cohen revealed that Mr. Trump was more involved in discussions over the potential deal during the election campaign than previously known.
The SDNY crimes mostly had little to do with Trump. It was Cohen, benefiting personally from his power and association with Trump. He refused to sign a plea agreement with SDNY, which kind of cut against his proclaimed torment and desire to make good.
We didn’t learn anything new today in the sentencing, but it closes one chapter of the Mueller investigation.
Deleted tweet but still a delight. pic.twitter.com/eTOsvCXpec— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) December 12, 2018
We should also remember that Cohen was not only Trump’s lawyer — he was deputy finance chair of the RNCC.
Here’s Geraldo’s take:
Yes @MichaelCohen212 is sentenced to 3 years in federal prison. But in breathless coverage of event what is being down played or ignored by anti-@realDonaldTrump media is that most of what he has pleaded to are his sleazy business practices that have nothing to do with @POTUS— Geraldo Rivera (@GeraldoRivera) December 12, 2018
That’s an embarrassing take for a supposed journalist. “Hey, only 5% of his crimes can be tied to the President of the United States.”
Since we are talking about sentencing, let me tack this on — a conclusion to a very sad event:
UPDATE — AMI owns The National Enquirer, who paid $150,000 to McDougall and then buried the story about her affair with Trump. This arrangement, brokered by Cohen, would have been a campaign expenditure since it related to covering up allegations harmful to Trump during the 2016 election.
BREAKING: @SDNYnews released a press release announcing today that “it has previously reached a non-prosecution agreement with AMI, in connection with AMI’s role in making the above-described $150,000 payment before the 2016 presidential election.”— Adam Klasfeld (@KlasfeldReports) December 12, 2018
No statement from Khuzami. pic.twitter.com/jnwMI0nhD4
The key phrase: “AMI admitted that its principal purpose in making the payment was to suppress the woman’s story so as to prevent it from influencing the election.” (emphasis mine)
If Trump knew about that, that’s campaign fraud.
It also adds another illegal aspect to all of this: that money was corporate, not PAC, and candidates cannot accept corporate money, either directly or in-kind. The amount is also significant. A corporate PAC can only give $5K per election ($5K each for primary & general). This was $150,000 of in-kind contribution.