Politics

Former Trump lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen arrives with his family for sentencing in hush-money, tax, and Mueller case

Key Points
  • Michael Cohen faces sentencing for a slew of crimes, including ones potentially implicating President Trump in illegal conduct.
  • Cohen, the former personal lawyer and fixer for Trump, pleaded guilty to charges lodged by federal prosecutors in New York and special counsel Robert Mueller.
  • Cohen was involved in hush-money payoffs to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal,  and he admitted he lied to Congress about a plan to build a Trump Tower in Russia.
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Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen sentenced for Stormy Daniels case, Russia project and other crimes

Michael Cohen, the former longtime personal lawyer and fixer for President Donald Trump, arrived in federal court in New York on Wednesday morning with his wife and children to face sentencing for a slew of crimes, including ones potentially implicating Trump in illegal conduct.

Read more: Judge sentences Michael Cohen to 3 years in prison

Cohen, 52, walked slowly into the courthouse in lower Manhattan looking somber, watched by a throng of reporters and television camera crews. He walked with his hand supporting the arm of his daughter, who was on crutches, as his son and wife walked closely behind them.

Also at court was controversial lawyer Michael Avenatti, whose porn star client Stormy Daniels' hush-money deal with Cohen and Trump set the case against Cohen into motion earlier this year.

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Michael Cohen sentenced to three years in prison for campaign finance violations

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.