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Michael Cohen sentencing: 3 years, says it was ‘duty’ to cover up for Trump

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Michael Cohen was sentenced to 36 months in prison Wednesday by US District Judge William H. Pauley III for an array of crimes he committed while employed by President Donald Trump.

Cohen apologized for his actions, stating he felt he had a “duty” to “cover up” Trump’s “dirty deeds.”

“Recently the president tweeted a statement calling me weak and it was correct 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,” Cohen said to the court.

Cohen had previously asked the judge for no prison time, citing his efforts to be cooperative.

Cohen’s crimes, to which he pleaded guilty, included lying to Congress about his involvement in a plan to build Trump Tower in Moscow and payments he made in 2016 to two women who alleged they had affairs with the president.

Read more: Trump has been implicated in several federal crimes, but here’s why experts say he hasn’t faced legal consequences

The president’s former lawyer pleaded guilty to eight federal crimes in August, including tax fraud, bank fraud, and campaign finance violations.

Cohen implicated Trump in the campaign finance violations, which were connected to the hush money payments he said were made on the president’s behalf. More recently, he pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the Trump Tower project in Moscow.

Federal prosecutors for the Southern District of New York released a sentencing memo last Friday recommending Cohen receive 3.5 years in prison and pay a $100,000 fine. The prosecutors said Cohen “deceived the voting public by hiding alleged facts that he believed would have had a substantial effect on the election.”

Read more: Federal prosecutors recommend a 3.5 year sentence for former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen

“With respect to both payments, Cohen acted with the intent to influence the 2016 presidential election,” the filing stated. “Cohen coordinated his actions with one or more members of the campaign, including through meetings and phone calls, about the fact, nature, and timing of the payments. … And as Cohen himself has now admitted, with respect to both payments, he acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1.”

Individual 1 refers to Trump, who has shifted from denying knowledge of the hush money payments to characterizing them as a “simple private transaction.”

Special counsel Robert Mueller, who’s leading an investigation into Russian election interference, also released a sentencing memo on Cohen last Friday. Mueller recommending Cohen receive a sentence reflecting lying to federal investigators has serious consequences, but also called for Cohen’s cooperation with his probe to be given “due consideration.”

Trump, who once had a close relationship with Cohen, has called his former personal lawyer a liar and in a recent tweet said he should receive a “full and complete sentence.”

This is a developing story.

Read more: Here’s a glimpse at Trump’s decades-long history of business ties to Russia

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