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Former counsel to President Trump was sentenced to 36 months in prison.

A federal judge on Wednesday sentenced President Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen to three years in prison for financial crimes and lying to Congress, as the disgraced former “fixer” apologized for his conduct but also said he felt it was his duty to cover up the “dirty deeds” of his former boss.

Cohen made an emotional, teary apology to U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III, taking responsibility for crimes that included tax violations, lying to a bank, and buying the silence during the 2016 campaign of women who alleged affairs with the future president.

“My weakness could be characterized as a blind loyalty to Donald Trump,” Cohen told the packed courtroom, standing at a podium where he would at times become emotional and pause to regain his composure.

The judge also ordered Cohen to pay nearly $2 million in financial penalties for his crimes.

The sentencing hearing had three interesting points. First, Cohen’s team went after the SDNY prosecutors for punishing Cohen just because they could. They pointed out that many, if not all, of Cohen’s tax charges were usually dealt with by civil actions. I think that is a fair assessment of that particular office now, it is a fair assessment of how it has operated in the past, and, note here to President Trump should he not be president in 2021, it is how they will operate in the future. The SDNY acts like it gets paid by the word for favorable media coverage and an indictment of President Trump would be like getting Midas’s Touch. Second, the SDNY backed off their scathing sentencing memo and conceded that Cohen had provided valuable cooperation. Lastly, federal sentencing guidelines called for 51-63 months. The trial judge made a significant departure below that.

In the end, Cohen received 36 months to be served at a medium security prison in Otisville, NY. He was ordered to forfeit $500,000, to pay $1.4 million in restitution, and hit with two $50,000 fines–one each to the Special Counsel and the SDNY. He must surrender to the FBP no later than March 6 to begin serving his sentence.

The notable thing about this is that the Special Counsel part of the prosecution was not useful to David French and others who are still flogging the Russians-got-Trump elected story. Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress. In his testimony, he stated he never made the trips alleged to have been made by him in the Steele dossier, yet this was not included. This shows pretty conclusively that large swaths of that document are bogus. It also reveals that Trump is very vulnerable to state and federal charges concerning his business operations. That, however, should surprise very few people.

Below is a Threadreaderapp of a guy’s live blog of the sentencing hearing.

Good morning from New York.

Today’s sentencing hearing for Michael Cohen begins at 11 a.m., and I‘ll be live-tweeting it.

As Cohen tries to avoid a lengthy prison term, we’ll see if there will be more revelations about “Individual-1,” i.e. Trump.

Thread to come here.


ICYMI:

Broad story on the sentencing: https://www.courthousenews.com/ex-trump-lawyer-cohen-hit-with-call-for-substantial-sentence …

Story on what the hush-money payments could mean for Trump: https://www.courthousenews.com/ex-prosecutors-cast-doubt-on-trumps-hush-money-spin …

Ex-Trump Lawyer Cohen Hit With Call for ‘Substantial’ Sentence
Restrained in their praise of Michael Cohen for cooperating with investigators, federal prosecutors recommended Friday that President Donald Trump’s former lawyer receive a roughly five-year prison…

Pano shot of the enormous press scrum outside of Manhattan federal court.

Michael Cohen is reported to have arrived.

Michael Avenatti is also said to be in attendance.
My @CourthouseNews colleague @FRIED_ALIVE is also following this morning’s sentencing hearing.

Cohen is seated at the defense table next to his attorney Guy Petrillo, but the prosecution table is currently empty. Prosecutors from SDNY and Mueller’s office will be attending.
Remember: Cohen’s been prosecuted from both offices. The New York prosecutors filed the charges related to tax evasion, campaign finance, and lying to a financial institution.

Mueller’s team prosecuted lying to Congress about the negotiations of the attempted Moscow tower deal.
Attorneys from the Special Counsel’s Office are now seated at the prosecution table.
Cohen’s family is seated in the second row, and SDNY deputy U.S. Attorney Robert Khuzami is in front of them.

The SDNY sentencing memo was blistering toward Cohen.

By comparison, Mueller’s memo was good cop.
All rise!

We’re beginning. AUSA Nicolas Roos introduces.

The Special Counsel’s office and Cohen’s attorney Guy Petrillo introduce themselves too.
U.S. District Judge William Pauley starts by calculating the sentencing guideline ranges.

Cohen argued that the tax evasion charges were “not closely related” to other charges, but Pauley finds in favor of the government that they are.
Pauley also gives an enhancement for “sophisticated means” in his crimes, i.e. creating shell companies for the hush-money payments.
Pauley calculates the guidelines at 51 to 63 months of imprisonment.

Reminder: The judge isn’t bound by those guidelines, and can go either above or below.
Defense attorney Guy Petrillo up now for Cohen.
Petrillo said Cohen offered “his relevant knowledge” to the Special Counsel’s office “knowing that he’d face a barrage of attack by the president.”

“He knew that the president might shut down the investigation.”
Petrillo: He offered evidence against the most powerful person in our country. He did so not knowing what the results would be.

Or without knowing whether the probe would “survive,” Petrillo said.
Petrillo calls the SCO’s investigation as important as has been seen “since the days of Watergate.”
Petrillo: “His action stands in profound contrast in the decisions of others not to cooperate, and allegedly to double-deal” while pretending to cooperate.
Petrillo pushes back against SDNY’s “sharp memo.”

“The crux of what we’re saying is that he puts himself out to raise money for very worthwhile organizations.”

“This is a man whose first instinct is to help.”
Petrillo calls Cohen a man who “does not engage in sharp business practices.”
Petrillo: “No bank has ever lost money dealing with Michael Cohen.”

He repeats that line twice.
Petrillo: “Life is tough and Michael Cohen accepts that. We accept that.”

He claims that tax-evasions cases like Cohen’s are “routinely treated in a non-criminal context.”
Petrillo denies that Cohen declined to answer questions from prosecutors and Congress.

“He is wary of a long-term cooperation agreement for personal reasons,” asserting that Cohen wants to keep himself and his family from the “glare of the cameras.”
Calling the SDNY memo unfair, Petrillo said, “I don’t really understand the strident tone of the memo.”
On his client’s treatment, Petrillo said: “Mr. Cohen had the misfortune to be counsel to the president.”
Petrillo lashed out at the Southern District, suggesting prosecutors are angry at playing second fiddle to Mueller.
“Power to the Southern District,” Petrillo said. “They want to build a bigger case than they’ve already made. God bless them.”
Petrillo steps down, and Special Counsel’s Office prosecutor Jeannie S. Rhee is now up.
Special Counsel’s Office prosecutor Jeannie S. Rhee said that Cohen provided “credible” and “valuable information” regarding “any links between a campaign and a foreign government.”
“Mr. Cohen has sought to tell us the truth,” Rhee said.
“There’s only so much we can say about the particulars at this time, given our ongoing investigation,” Rhee said.

Kept tight-lipped throughout her remarks. More on what she said soon.

SDNY’s Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicolas Roos is now up.
Roos hits back and says that Cohen “cannot have it both ways.”

“To do so would send the wrong message,” Roos says, the message being that “selective cooperation” would be rewarded.
Roos: “The charges portray a pattern of deception, of brazenness and of greed.”

The campaign finance charges, Roos said, were particularly “serious because of the tremendous societal costs.”
Roos adds that Cohen’s actions harmed the interests of “free and transparent elections, and in committing these crimes, Cohen has eroded faith in the electoral process.”
Roos: The unfairness here is not to Mr. Cohen here, but to the public.
Roos down, and Cohen is up next to address the court.
Cohen stands up and brings his prepared speech to the podium.
Cohen: “I stand before your honor humbly and painfully aware that we are here for one reason.”

“I take full responsibility for each act that I pleaded guilty to ….” including those implicating the “President of the United States of America.”
Cohen began his remarks by stating that: “Today is the day that I am getting my freedom back.” … “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.”
Hitting back at Trump’s tweet calling him weak, Cohen agreed and added that his “weakness was a blind loyalty to Donald Trump.”
Cohen describes “seeing the unbearable pain that my associations and my actions brought to my entire family.”

“This is why I did not enter into a cooperation agreement.”…
“I have chosen this unorthodox path because the sooner that I am sentenced,” the sooner he can return to his family.

“I do not need a cooperation agreement in place to do the right thing.”
“The president of the United States, the most powerful man in the world,” mocks Cohen, he says, “calling me a rat.”

He slams Trump for trying to influence proceeding that “implicate” him.
Tearing up, Cohen apologizes to the public: “You deserve to know the truth and lying to you was unjust.”
Pauley speaks — sentencing coming up soon. He reads the charges.
Pauley talks about the “smorgasboard” of crimes involving “deception” and motivated by “personal greed and ambition.”
Quoting Oliver Wendall Holmes, Pauley said of the tax-evasion charges: “Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society.”
Pauley notes that Cohen admitted that he made the illicit hush-money payments “at the coordination with and the direction of Individual-1.”
“Each of these crimes standing alone warrant considerable punishment,” Pauley said.
Pauley describes Cohen’s upbringing up to his employment by the Trump Organization.

“He thrived on his access to wealthy and powerful people, and he became one himself,” he says.
Pauley cites SCO’s statement that Cohen cooperated on “core topics under investigation” and the information that he has provided was “relevant and useful.”
Pauley: “Our system of justice would be less robust without the use of cooperating agreements with law enforcement.”
“As a lawyer, Mr. Cohen should have known better,” Pauley says, turning to the tax evasion, campaign finance, and false statement charges.
Pauley: Cohen’s cooperation “does not wipe the slate clean.”

“This court … believes a significant term of imprisonment” is justified, Pauley says.
BREAKING: Cohen is sentencing to 36 months of imprisonment.
* sentenced

Pauley allows for Cohen to voluntarily surrender by March 6, and the judge will recommend that Cohen serve his term in Otisville.
Fines and forfeiture.

The last line of Cohen’s address.

Clarification about the fines: On top of the forfeiture and restitution, Cohen owes two separate fines of $50,000 — one for Mueller’s case and another for the SDNY one.
Side photo of Cohen’s exit.

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