Ex-Trump lawyer Cohen to be sentenced for
hush money payments
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[December 12, 2018]
By Brendan Pierson
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald
Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen will be sentenced on
Wednesday for his role in the payment of hush money to women who said
they had affairs with Trump and for lying to Congress about a proposed
Trump Tower project in Russia that was discussed during the 2016
Cohen, 52, pleaded guilty in August to charges by federal prosecutors in
New York that, just before the election, he paid adult film actress
Stormy Daniels $130,000 and helped arrange a $150,000 payment to former
Playboy model Karen McDougal so the women would keep quiet about their
relationships with Trump, who is married. Trump denies having the
Cohen also admitted to unrelated tax and bank fraud. He faces sentencing
on a separate charge of lying to Congress brought by Special Counsel
Robert Mueller, who is investigating possible coordination between
Trump's campaign and Russia. Cohen pleaded guilty to that charge last
The sentencing by U.S. District Judge William Pauley in Manhattan will
cap the stunning about-face of a lawyer who once said he would "take a
bullet" for Trump but has now directly implicated the president in
Trump has denied any collusion with Russia and has accused Mueller's
team of pressuring his former aides to lie about him, his campaign and
his business dealings. Russia has denied U.S. allegations of interfering
in the election to help Trump.
Prosecutors and Cohen both say the hush money payments violated campaign
finance laws and were directed by Trump himself to cover up affairs he
had in 2006 and 2007. Federal law requires that the contribution of
"anything of value" to a campaign must be disclosed, and an individual
donation cannot exceed $2,700.
Trump said on Monday on Twitter that the payments were a "simple private
transaction" that did not violate the law.
Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani has argued the payments cannot be
considered campaign finance violations because they were made to protect
Trump's reputation and would have been made even if he had not been a
Though Cohen asked in a Nov. 30 court filing to be given no jail time
based on his assistance in the investigation, prosecutors on Friday
asked that Cohen be given a "substantial term of imprisonment" for his
crimes with only a "modest" reduction to the roughly four to five-year
term they say he faces under sentencing guidelines.
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President Donald Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, leaves the
Daniel Patrick Moynihan United States Court House in lower
Manhattan, New York City, U.S. August 21, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan
Though they said he provided useful information about the hush money
payments, prosecutors said Cohen declined to sign a formal
cooperation agreement, which would have required him to be fully
debriefed about his entire criminal history and his knowledge of
others' crimes. His refusal to cooperate fully, they said, limited
his credibility as a witness.
In his guilty plea to Mueller's charge, Cohen admitted he lied to
Congress about the timeline for discussions about plans for real
estate businessman Trump's skyscraper in Moscow. He said in written
testimony to two committees that the talks ended in January 2016,
before the first Republican primaries, when they actually continued
until June 2016 after Trump clinched the Republican nomination.
Mueller's sentencing recommendation was more generous, saying Cohen
had provided valuable information about contacts between Trump's
campaign and Russia. He recommended any sentence for lying to
Congress be served concurrently with Cohen's sentence on the charges
in New York.
Sentencing consultant Justin Paperny said Judge Pauley, has a
reputation for being tough on white-collar defendants and that Cohen
probably made a mistake by asking for no jail time when he failed to
"Itís like he wanted to have his cake and eat it too," said Paperny,
adding that Cohen would do well to get a sentence in the low end of
(Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; additional reporting by
Nathan Layne; editing by Anthony Lin and Grant McCool)
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