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Jailed former Trump lawyer says he felt he was duty-bound 'to cover up his dirty deeds'

Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison.

Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen
Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen
Image: Craig Ruttle/AP/Press Association Image

US PRESIDENT DONALD Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, has been sentenced to three years in prison for crimes including hush-money payments that prosecutors say Trump ordered.

His sentence is in line with what federal prosecutors asked for, with guidelines calling for around four to five years in prison and prosecutors asking in court papers that Cohen be given only a slight break. 

District Judge William H. Pauley III said that Cohen deserved modest credit for his decision over the summer to admit guilt and co-operate in a federal investigation of efforts by Russians to influence the presidential election, but that his assistance “does not wipe the slate clean”. 

“Somewhere along the way Mr. Cohen appears to have lost his moral compass,” the judge said. “As a lawyer, Mr. Cohen should have known better.”

Cohen told the judge just before he was sentenced that loyalty to Trump led him astray.

“It was my blind loyalty to this man that led me to take a path of darkness instead of light,” he said. “I felt it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds.”

Cohen’s lawyers had argued for leniency, saying that he decided to cooperate with investigators rather than hold out for a possible pardon.

“He came forward to offer evidence against the most powerful person in our country,” Cohen’s lawyer, Guy Petrillo, told the judge during the hearing.

Cohen (52) pleaded guilty in August to evading $1.4 million in taxes related to his personal businesses.

In the part of the case with greater political repercussions, he also admitted breaking campaign finance laws in arranging payments in the waning days of the 2016 election to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal, both of whom said they had sexual encounters with Trump.

Cohen became the first — and so far, only — member of Trump’s circle during two years of investigations to go into open court and implicate the president in a crime, though whether a president can be prosecuted is a matter of legal dispute.

Last month, Cohen also pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about Trump’s business dealings in Russia.

He admitted hiding the fact that he was negotiating a proposal to build a Trump skyscraper in Moscow well into the presidential campaign. He said he lied out of devotion to Trump, who had insisted during the campaign that he had no business ties whatsoever to Russia.

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Associated Press

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