AP

Ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen faces possible jail sentence

Dec 12, 2018, 7:54 AM | Updated: 7:56 am
FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2018, file photo, Michael Cohen walks out of federal court in New York. The...
FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2018, file photo, Michael Cohen walks out of federal court in New York. The moment of reckoning has nearly arrived for Cohen, who finds out Wednesday, Dec. 12, whether his decision to walk away from President Donald Trump after years of unwavering loyalty will spare him from a harsh prison sentence. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)
(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Michael Cohen, a lawyer who made his career protecting President Donald Trump, is set to learn Wednesday whether his decision to cooperate with federal investigators will lessen his punishment for crimes including making illegal hush-money payments to two women during the 2016 campaign — a scandal that could damage Trump’s presidency.

A federal judge in New York is set to decide whether Cohen gets leniency or years in prison for campaign finance violations, tax evasion and lying to Congress about the president’s past business dealings in Russia.

Cohen, 52, is due to appear at 11 a.m. at a courthouse in Manhattan for a sentencing hearing before U.S. District Judge William Pauley III.

Under federal sentencing guidelines, he stands to get about four years in prison, but his lawyers have argued for leniency.
Some of Cohen’s crimes, they said, were motivated by overenthusiasm for Trump, rather than any nefarious intent.

He has pleaded guilty to misleading Congress about his work on a proposal to build a Trump skyscraper in Moscow, hiding the fact that he continued to speak with Russians about the proposal well into the presidential campaign.

Cohen also pleaded guilty in August to breaking campaign finance laws by helping orchestrate payments to silence former Playboy model Karen McDougal and adult film actress Stormy Daniels, who said they had sexual encounters with Trump while he was married.

For weeks, Cohen’s legal strategy appeared to revolve around persuading the court that he is a reformed man who abandoned longtime friendships and gave up his livelihood when he decided to cut ties with the president and speak with federal investigators. Cohen’s lawyers have said in court filings that their client could have stayed on the president’s side and angled himself for a presidential pardon.

New York prosecutors have urged a judge to sentence Cohen to a substantial prison term, saying he’d failed to fully cooperate and overstated his helpfulness.

They’ve asked for only a slight reduction to his sentence based on his work with the office of special counsel Robert Mueller and prosecutors looking into the campaign finance violations in New York.

A probation-only sentence, they said, is unbefitting of “a man who knowingly sought to undermine core institutions of our democracy.”

“While many Americans who desired a particular outcome to the election knocked on doors, toiled at phone banks, or found any number of other legal ways to make their voices heard, Cohen sought to influence the election from the shadows. He did so by orchestrating secret and illegal payments to silence two women who otherwise would have made public their alleged extramarital affairs” with Trump, prosecutors wrote.

Prosecutors said Cohen orchestrated payments to McDougal and Daniels at Trump’s direction.

Trump, who insists the affairs never happened, said Monday in a tweet that the payments to the women were “a simple private transaction,” not a campaign contribution. And if it was campaign contribution, the president said, Cohen is the one who should be held responsible.

“Lawyer’s liability if he made a mistake, not me,” Trump wrote, adding, “Cohen just trying to get his sentence reduced. WITCH HUNT!”

A sentence of hard time would leave Cohen with little to show for his decision to plead guilty, though experts said Wednesday’s hearing might not be the last word on his punishment.

Cohen could have his sentence revisited if he strikes a deal with prosecutors in which he provides additional cooperation within a year of his sentence, said Michael J. Stern, a former federal prosecutor in Detroit and Los Angeles.

“Few things spark a defendant’s renewed interest in cooperating faster than trading in a pair of custom Italian trousers for an off-the-rack orange jumpsuit,” he said.

Annemarie McAvoy, a former federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, said prosecutors appear to be angry at Cohen for limiting his cooperation.

“It could be a tactic to try to break him like they’ve tried to do with (Paul) Manafort,” McAvoy said, referring to Trump’s former campaign chairman. “It kind of shows they’re putting the screws to him. If they’re not mad at him, he didn’t give them what they wanted.”

Cohen’s transition from Trump’s fixer-in-chief to felon has been head-spinning.

He once told an interviewer he would “take a bullet” for Trump. But facing prosecution for evading $1.4 million in taxes, Cohen pleaded guilty in August, pledged to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the presidential election and changed his party registration from Republican to Democrat.

Judge Pauley, who was appointed to the federal bench by former President Bill Clinton, may allow Cohen to begin serving any prison term he receives at a later date. But legal experts said Cohen could also be taken into custody immediately.

“If I were advising him, I’d encourage him to bring his toothbrush to court,” said Stern.
Cohen’s lawyers have asked for no prison time, saying he has suffered enough already.

“The greatest punishment Michael has endured in the criminal process has been the shame and anxiety he feels daily from having subjected his family to the fallout from his case,” his attorneys wrote in a court filing last month. “The media glare and intrusions on all of them, including his children, the regular hate correspondence and written and oral threats, the fact that he will lose his law license, the termination of business relationships by banks and insurers and the loss of friendships, are but some of this fallout.”

Today’s Top Stories

AP

Irene Cara in 'Fame' (Photo courtesy of Mgm/Kobal, Shutterstock)...
MARK KENNEDY, AP Entertainment Writer

‘Fame’ and ‘Flashdance’ singer-actor Irene Cara dies at 63

singer-actress Irene Cara, who starred and sang the title cut from the 1980 hit movie “Fame” and then belted out the era-defining hit “Flashdance ... What a Feeling” from 1983's “Flashdance,” has died. She was 63.
3 days ago
The U.S. Coast Guard ship Bernard C. Webber, leaves the coast guard base, Monday, July 19, 2021, in...
Associated Press

‘Miracle’: Missing cruise ship passenger found OK in water

The U.S. Coast Guard says a passenger who went overboard from a cruise ship in the Gulf of Mexico was rescued on Thanksgiving after likely being in the water for hours.
4 days ago
FILE - A Montana man was sentenced to three years in prison for his role in the Capitol riot. (AP P...
The Associated Press

Montana man gets 3 years in prison for role in Capitol riot

A Montana man will spend three years in federal prison for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S Capitol.
5 days ago
Debbie, left, and Chet Barnett place flowers at a memorial outside of the Chesapeake, Va., Walmart ...
The Associated Press

Walmart shooter left ‘death note,’ bought gun day of killing

According to authorities in Virginia, the Walmart shooter bought his gun just hours prior to killing six employees.
5 days ago
Dry lakebed...
Kira Hoffelmeyer

Lawsuit looms over tiny fish in drought-stricken West

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Conservationists have notified U.S. wildlife officials that they will sue over delayed decisions related to protections for two rare fish species that are threatened by groundwater pumping in the drought-stricken West. The Center for Biological Diversity sent a formal notice of intent to sue the Fish and Wildlife Service last week […]
7 days ago
Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting ...
COLLEEN SLEVIN, THOMAS PEIPERT, JESSE BEDAYN and BRITTANY PETERSON

Colorado gay club shooting suspect held without bail

The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub was ordered held without bail in an initial court appearance Wednesday.
7 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...
Sorenson

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Young woman receiving laser treatment...
Form Derm Spa

How facial plastic surgery and skincare are joining forces

Facial plastic surgery is not only about looking good but about feeling good too. The medical team at Form Spa are trained to help you reach your aesthetic outcomes through surgery and through skincare and dermatology, too.
Ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen faces possible jail sentence