A weekly window on the American political scene hosted by Liz Marlantes.

Michael Cohen: Trump's fixer sentenced to three years in prison

President Trump's personal attorney pled guilty to tax evasion and campaign finance violations, as well as lying to Congress about contacts with Russians.

Jeenah Moon/Reuters
Michael Cohen, President Trump's former lawyer, arrives for his sentencing hearing at a US courthouse in New York City, Dec. 12, 2018.

Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former personal attorney, was sentenced today to three years in prison after pleading guilty to tax evasion and campaign finance violations, as well as lying to Congress about contacts with Russians in 2016 about a proposal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

Once known as Mr. Trump’s “fixer,” Mr. Cohen famously threatened those who criticized his boss, and was responsible for making the most indelicate problems go away. Then, when the special counsel’s investigation heated up, he became Trump world’s most prominent turncoat, saying he regretted his entire association with Trump and wanted to start his life anew.

Cohen admitted to making “hush money” payments to women claiming extramarital affairs with Trump – and said he did it at the president’s direction, in an effort to influence the 2016 election.

His ultimate value to the Trump-Russia investigation remains to be seen, but the special counsel’s office told the judge he had been “helpful.”

Cohen was reportedly tearful at today’s sentencing. He apologized to his family, and blamed his own fealty to Trump as leading him to “take a path of darkness instead of light.”

In advance of the sentencing, the Monitor’s Warren Richey, who covers the Trump-Russia investigation, read through all 37 letters submitted by Cohen’s friends and associates, asking the judge for leniency – an extraordinary number of testimonials, Warren says. They painted a picture of a good friend and dedicated parent whose “greatest weakness has been his blind loyalty towards those who have misused his trust,” as one associate wrote.

A fellow parent at his children’s former school called him “Super Dad.” He raised money for St. Jude’s children’s hospital, and when a housekeeper’s child needed surgery but couldn’t afford it, Cohen paid for the operation, conferred with doctors, and visited the child in the hospital.

In their response, Warren points out, prosecutors said Cohen led “a double life.” Their sentencing memo noted that it is “far easier to give generously to charities when the donor is simultaneously evading the payment of taxes on millions of dollars in income.”

The judge agreed, saying that as a lawyer, Cohen should have known better. He added: “a significant term of imprisonment is fully justified in this highly publicized case to send a message.”

Let us know what you’re thinking at csmpolitics@csmonitor.com.

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.