Michael Cohen Sentenced

Posted by on Dec 19, 2018 in Current Events, Government

Back in August, Election Central brought you the story of the arrest of Michael D. Cohen, Donald Trump’s former personal attorney. At that time, Cohen pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance law, several counts of tax evasion, and one count of bank fraud. On December 12, he was sentenced to three years in prison. Here, btw takes a closer look at the scandal and what it could mean for the Trump presidency.

A Bit of Background

All of the charges against Cohen stemmed from the fact that Cohen admitted to paying “hush money” to two women–adult-film star Stormy Daniels, and former Playboy model Karen McDougal–during the 2016 presidential campaign. It was believed that this money was paid to keep them from going public about the affairs they had with then-candidate Trump. In August, Cohen’s lawyers also revealed to the court that Cohen had information that would be useful to Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation into the role the Trump administration played in the Russian hacking of the 2016 election. The lawyers indicated that Cohen would be willing to plea bargain–that he would share this information in exchange for receiving a lesser prison sentence.

Originally, Cohen could have faced up to 65 years in prison for his crimes. But due to his cooperation with the Mueller investigation, his sentence was reduced to three years. He was also ordered to pay nearly $2 million in fines.

Emotional Testimony

Cohen once famously said that he would “take a bullet” for the president. However, last week, he apologized for his actions and said that his blind loyalty to Trump caused him to ignore his own moral compass. He said that he had been haunted by his actions ever since he made them. Cohen also said that he had caused great distress and embarrassment to his family. He also apologized to the American public for deceiving them.

“Individual 1”

Since Cohen initially came under investigation back in the spring, President Trump has publicly denounced his former attorney many times. Trump initially denied that the women had been paid the money that was indicated. However, the president later admitted that the payments had been made and that he knew about it. But Trump then said that the money used was not from campaign contributions. This is an important distinction, because if campaign contributions were indeed used in this way, then the president violated campaign-finance law. This could have criminal implications.

During the sentencing, it was found that not only did Trump know about the payments to the two women, but that he directed Cohen to ensure that the payments were completed. The president was referred to as “Individual 1” throughout these proceedings. Though the current attitude at the Justice Department is that a sitting president shouldn’t be indicted for criminal offenses, it’s possible that Trump could be charged upon leaving office.

What About Russia?

Michael Cohen also pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about his negotiations with Russia. He admitted that both he and Trump were involved in discussions with Russia. But his testimony only said that the discussions were about building a Trump Tower in Moscow and that these secret discussions occurred during the 2016 election campaign. Even though Cohen’s trial is now over, experts say that more information on this scandal is likely to surface.

Cohen will begin serving his three-year prison sentence on March 6, 2019.

What Do You Think? Michael Cohen, addressing the judge, said: “Today is one of the most meaningful days of my life. The irony is today is the day I am getting my freedom back.” Considering what you’ve read about what Cohen has experienced since working for Trump, explain what you think Cohen may have meant by this statement.