Michael Cohen, former Donald Trump’s personal attorney, was sentenced to three years in prison by a Manhattan court for a series of crimes committed during the 2016 US presidential campaign.
Judge William Pauley found Michael Cohen guilty of having bought on behalf of Donald Trump the silence of two women who claimed to have had an extramarital affair with the businessman.
Michael Cohen, who pleaded guilty in August to these charges, said he acted at the request of Donald Trump who feared that such revelations would weaken his candidacy for the Republican nomination.
These payments of money constituted, according to the public prosecutor’s office, infringements of the rules of financing of the electoral campaigns.
Judge Pauley added a $ 500,000 fine and the release of nearly $ 1.4 million from the Trump campaign finances to buy the silence of the two women who accused the billionaire.
Michael Cohen, 52, admitted paying $ 130,000 to pornographic actress Stormy Daniels and arranging $ 150,000 for Karen McDougal, a model posing for Playboy magazine.
“It was my weakness and blind loyalty to this man that led me to choose the path of darkness at the expense of light,” said Michael Cohen at the hearing. “I thought it was my job to cover up his bad behavior,” he said, referring to Donald Trump.
Cohen also pleaded guilty in November to lying during his congressional hearing as part of the open parliamentary inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Michael Cohen had notably lied about the project to build a Trump tower in Moscow, a company that the real estate mogul had been pursuing for several years.
Contacts with Russian representatives on the project had not stopped in January 2016 as Donald Trump said but continued until the summer of 2016 when the tycoon won the Republican primary.
Michael Cohen, heard as a witness in the investigation of Russian interference, agreed to cooperate with the special prosecutor Robert Mueller who has been conducting investigations for a year and a half on this case.
GIULIANI BELIEVES THAT THERE ARE NO INFRACTIONS
The lawyers for Michael Cohen had asked in their conclusions that their client be exempted from all imprisonment. They explained that the offenses he had committed were due to “fierce loyalty” to Donald Trump.
One of Cohen’s lawyers asked Judge William Pauley for clemency, insisting on the courage of his client who agreed to cooperate with Attorney Mueller.
“Although Mr Cohen has promised to help with future investigations, this is something the court can not consider for now,” the magistrate said.
Donald Trump says there has been no collusion between his campaign team and the Russian authorities and regularly repeats that prosecutor Mueller is conducting a “witch hunt” against him.
His new personal attorney, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, considers that the purchase of the silence of Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal does not constitute a violation of the rules on campaign financing.
Giuliani argues that these payments of money were intended to protect Donald Trump’s reputation and that they would have been made even if he had not been a candidate for the Republican nomination.