Former Trump lawyer, fixer Michael Cohen faces sentencing in court
Cohen, who was Trump’s lawyer until earlier this year, when his residences and homes were raided by the FBI, is due to hear his fate from a judge in U.S. District Court, where he pleaded guilty to charges lodged by federal prosecutors in New York and by special counsel Robert Mueller.
The New York prosecutors have asked Judge William Pauley to impose “a substantial term of imprisonment” on Cohen, perhaps five years.
Cohen’s lawyers have asked Pauley to impose a sentence that does not include any time in prison, citing his cooperation with Mueller and other investigators, which began even before he first pleaded guilty last summer.
Cohen pleaded guilty in August to tax evasion, lying to banks and violating campaign finance laws. Those charges were filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
The campaign finance charges relate to his facilitation of two hush-money payments to Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal shortly before the 2016 presidential election. Both women say they had sex with Trump in the prior decade. The White House has denied Trump had sex with either woman.
Prosecutors say the payments were made “in coordination with and at the direction of” Trump, who is called “Individual-1” in a sentencing recommendation filed last week.
Cohen’s crimes were intended “to influence the election from the shadows,” prosecutors wrote.
Avenatti on Wednesday said in a tweet that Cohen “thought we would just go away and he/Trump would get away with it. He thought he was smart and tough. He was neither. Today will prove that in spades.”
Trump has not been criminally charged in the case. But Cohen’s guilty plea has raised speculation that prosecutors would charge him for the payoffs after he leaves the White House.
In November, Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the Trump Organization’s ultimately aborted plans to develop a Trump Tower in Moscow.
In that case, lodged by Mueller, Cohen admitted that he understated Trump’s knowledge of and involvement in the project.
Cohen also lied to Congress by claiming the effort to build the tower died in early 2016, when in fact he and the Trump Organization continued pursuing the deal as late as June 2016, at a time when Trump had effectively secured the Republican nomination for president and only five months before the election.
Federal sentencing guidelines suggest that Cohen should get a prison term of up to six months for lying to Congress.
Mueller has said that Cohen has in recent months “gone to significant lengths to assist the Special Counsel’s investigation.”
Cohen has met with Mueller’s team seven times and has given information that is helpful to the special counsel’s ongoing probe of Russian efforts to contact members of Trump’s presidential campaign, according to a sentencing memo filed by Mueller.
Mueller has asked that any prison term that Cohen receives for lying to Congress should run concurrently with the sentence for the charges brought by federal prosecutors in Manhattan.
Mueller is continuing to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible coordination by the Trump campaign. Trump has denied any wrongdoing.