Cohen sentenced to 3 years in prison for Trump hush money payments

Michael Cohen, ex ‘fixer’ lawyer for Donald Trump, has been sentenced to 3 years in prison in the United States for paying hush money to silence women during the 2016 election campaign.

RNZ: Donald Trump ex-lawyer Michael Cohen sentenced to 3 years prison

He was jailed for his role in the payment of hush money to women who said they had affairs with Mr Trump, and for lying to Congress about a proposed Trump Tower project in Russia discussed during the 2016 election campaign.

Cohen had pleaded guilty in August to charges by federal prosecutors in New York that, just before the election, he paid adult film actress Stormy Daniels $US130,000 and helped arrange a $US150,000 payment to former Playboy model Karen McDougal so the women would keep quiet about their past relationships with Trump, who is married.

Cohen faced sentencing on a separate charge of lying to Congress brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russia’s role in the 2016 election and possible coordination between Trump’s campaign and Moscow. Cohen pleaded guilty to that charge last month.

Prosecutors have said the payments violated campaign finance laws. Cohen told prosecutors the payments were directed by Trump, implicating the president in a possible campaign finance law violation.

Federal law requires that the contribution of “anything of value” to a campaign must be disclosed, and an individual donation cannot exceed $US2700.

Mr Trump denies having the affairs or being involved in the payments.

It’s hard to take any Trump denials seriously given his track record of making false claims and lying. And it seems a real stretch to believe he knew nothing about substantial payments being made on his behalf.

The judge sentenced Cohen to 36 months for the payments, which violated campaign finance law, and to two months for the false statements to Congress. The two terms will run simultaneously.

Three years is a hefty sentence, especially for campaign finance violations.

Theoretically, if Trump was charged for being involved in the same offences he could face that sort of sentence too.

 

29 Comments

  1. David

     /  December 13, 2018

    There is no proof that the pornstar payments were illegal only Cohens claim that they are, he is going to jail for tax fraud, bank fraud, taxi medallion shenanigans and sundry other issues.
    Trump can claim the pornstar payoffs were done to protect his personal life not as part of his campaign so not a crime, if its proved they were for campaign purposes Trump could be fined like Obama was for mis stating 2.3 million back in the day. Edwards had a similar charge against him which he wasnt found guilty of when he arranged the payoff of a woman he got pregnant.
    As Trumps legal representative Cohen should have been aware of how to make the payoffs in a legal compliant way, payoffs themselves arent illegal and the Congress has paid 14 million out to staffers who have been sexually harrassed/assaulted by congressmen of both parties with no disclosure.
    The difference with Trump is everyone knows he has the morals of a sewer rat and voted for him anyway

    • Blazer

       /  December 13, 2018

      ‘ the morals of a sewer rat ‘…thats a new one.

    • Duker

       /  December 13, 2018

      “… no proof that the pornstar payments were illegal only Cohens claim that they are..”

      Not true . The tabloid company(AMI) that was used to ‘buy the stories and then lock them away’ is cooperating with federal prosecutors..
      “According to prosecutors, A.M.I. said its $150,000 payment in August 2016 to Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model who said she’d had a 10-month affair with Mr. Trump, had been made in coordination with the Trump campaign and was intended to suppress allegations about the candidate”
      Made in coordination with Trump campaign!. so that makes it 2 .
      Cohen and the executives of AMI say it was done to avoid campaign finance laws , thats conspiracy . ..Ouch !

      • David

         /  December 13, 2018

        There is no conviction let alone a charge or an indictment on Trump for his hush money, distasteful no doubt but its far from illegal and a stretch to link it to his campaign.

        • Duker

           /  December 13, 2018

          Distasteful? If he or others in his campaign were involved in a conspiracy over two different women and others to knowingly get around the campaign finance laws…after all the way they did it wasn’t just mistaken paperwork as can happen…someone will get in big trouble. But of course there is the Russian collusion as well…
          I bet Trump’s lawyers have their hair on fire over the potential indictments to come.
          Good luck thinking it’s a strecth to involve Trump. Cohen and the executives at the tabloid say different…you are living in a dream world..

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  December 13, 2018

      No sewer rat would lower itself to that extent; that’s most unflattering to these poor animals,

  2. Gezza

     /  December 13, 2018

    Aljazeera tv news reported in their (NZ) midnight news that a stiff penalty was being insisted on as a warning to others who lie about anything to the Special Prosecutor – a heinous crime – of the consequences of such an abuse of his powers & righteousness.

    Aljaz tv does not like Trump. Their coverage of anything related to him or his flunkies is consistently negative.

    • David

       /  December 13, 2018

      Cohen cooperated as much as he could but he just didnt really have anything, still no Trump \Russia collusion.
      Flynn looks like he will get no jail time but after serving his country and 2 presidents he is now bankrupt for lying. Papadopolis near bankrupt and life nearly ruined for lying, 13 Russian spies indicted for spying, Manafort nailed for pre Trump crimes.
      The US democracy is being usurped by politically motivated prosecutions which is chilling and ironically it was Trump who started the Meuller investigation and it was his justice department that has allowed it to range far and wide and stack itself with Clinton donors and lawyers and let it continue for 18 months.

      • Gezza

         /  December 13, 2018

        That bizarre, crazy “discussion” in the Oval Office between Pelosi, Schumer, & Trump where Trump threatened to shut down the government if he didn’t get Congressional funding for his wall, and/ or the military to build it, & their scripted, predictable vaguely somehow principled refusal to allow it, while the media looked on, filming, shows the extent to which Trump & the msm have turned the entire US system of government into a trashy Reality TV show.

        • Duker

           /  December 13, 2018

          Why did Trump call them in to a public meeting in his office and then try to repeat – for the 20th time- that he will close down the government if he cant get funding for his wall? if Trump didnt get his money during the last 2 years with republican control, he sure aint going to get it now with the Dems in control of the House – where spending bills must originate.
          Remember when Trump said that mexico would pay for the wall, now apparently the US military are going to build and pay for it.- strangley Trump has claimed the wall is under way ( those were demo units that arent on the border at all)

          • Gezza

             /  December 13, 2018

            He still thinks he’s on The Apprentice – White House Edition?

          • David

             /  December 13, 2018

            He needs and needed 10 democrat votes in the Senate. It’s not a 50 plus 1 system he needs 60 out of a hundred votes.

            • Duker

               /  December 13, 2018

              Couldnt even get money for a ‘wall’ out of the GOP controlled House

              ‘The House soundly defeated a compromise immigration bill Wednesday[July2018] that Republican leaders had hoped would unite warring factions within their party to fund President Trump’s border wall and dramatically decrease legal immigration.

              In a dramatic defeat for GOP leaders, House members voted 121-301 to approve the bill, falling far short of the 218 votes needed to pass the legislation. No Democrats voted for the bill.’

              That was back in July. Trump couldnt get his money before the election,
              from the House even before any procedural roadblocks in Senate.

              Where do you guys get your US info from Trump? Doesnt come close any sort of reality

              https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2018/06/27/house-defeats-compromise-immigration-bill/738330002/

  3. Interesting. The language in the SDNY sentencing memo focuses on transparency:
    “Cohen sought to influence the election from the shadows. He did so by orchestrating secret and illegal payments to silence two women who otherwise would have made public their alleged extramarital affairs with Individual-1. In the process, Cohen deceived the voting public by hiding alleged facts that he believed would have had a substantial effect on the election.”

    And again:
    “Cohen clouded a process that Congress has painstakingly sought to keep transparent.”

    And again:
    Cohen “used sophisticated tactics to conceal his misconduct. He arranged one of the payments through a media company and disguised it as a services contract, and executed the second non-disclosure agreement with aliases and routed the six-figure payment through a shell corporation.”

    The SDNY sentencing memo goes on to say that both Cohen and executives in the Trump Organisation worked together to conceal the nature of the payments:
    “Executives of the Company agreed to reimburse Cohen by adding $130,000 and $50,000, “grossing up” that amount to $360,000 for tax purposes, and adding a $60,000 bonus, such that Cohen would be paid $420,000 in total. Executives of the Company decided to pay the $420,000 in monthly installments of $35,000 over the course of a year. At the instruction of an executive for the Company, Cohen sent monthly invoices to the Company for these $35,000 payments, falsely indicating that the invoices were being sent pursuant to a “retainer agreement.” The Company then falsely accounted for these payments as “legal expenses.””

    SDNY is unlikely to have made that statement just on Cohen’s say-so. Alan Weisselberg (CFO for the Trump Organisation) was given immunity for specific grand jury testimony, and that immunity protects him from self-incrimination in sharing information with prosecutors about Cohen.

    And it’s unlikely that Weisselberg acted without input from President Trump.

    Even if the payments were “simple private transactions” to protect President Trump’s personal life, when they are carried out in the context of his candidacy in a presidential election, they become a conspiracy to commit fraud.

    All of this could be more problematic for President Trump than the violations of campaign finance laws, because it potentially exposes the Trump Organisation to charges of conspiracy to defraud the US, and a corporation can’t be presidentially pardoned.

    https://www.courtlistener.com/recap/gov.uscourts.nysd.499666/gov.uscourts.nysd.499666.27.0.pdf

    • Duker

       /  December 13, 2018

      Good summary. In US terms conspiracy to defeat a law , no matter how innocuous, is treated very harshly.
      a similar situation in NZ would be an MP arranging with a donor to split up a $100k donation into small amounts from straw donors to get around disclosure. Thats a conspiracy.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  December 13, 2018

        That’s a fantasy.

      • Gezza

         /  December 13, 2018

        It is if it’s proven to be the case. Where are things at with the police investigation into that?

  4. Zedd

     /  December 13, 2018

    the noose is tightening…

    the interesting thing is ‘MrT’ is anti-establishment & still very unpopular; tooooo far right for the anti-establishment crowd; S Brown ?

  5. Kitty Catkin

     /  December 13, 2018

    Trump has dropped his mate right in it. This disloyalty will surely come back and bite him hard on the bum…I hope.

  6. Mefrostate

     /  December 13, 2018

    Fox’s Napolitano: We learned today that prosecutors have evidence Trump committed a felony:

    https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/421083-foxs-napolitano-we-learned-today-that-prosecutors-have-evidence-trump

    • MaureenW

       /  December 13, 2018

      Still not anything about Russia though.

      • Mefrostate

         /  December 13, 2018

        Even if that were true, how is it relevant? That’s like you saying “here’s evidence Arden broke the law” and me replying “still no evidence she’s a socialist though”.

        • MaureenW

           /  December 13, 2018

          I thought the point of the Meuller investigation was to find evidence of Russian collusion in the 2016 election.

          • Gezza

             /  December 13, 2018

            Look as long as it uncovers illegal activity and perjury in US politics it’s ok with me. If you could get locked up for lying in politics Trump would’ve been in the slammer before he even started his campaign.

            • MaureenW

               /  December 13, 2018

              Along with everyone else – who’d be left to lie to the voters?

            • Gezza

               /  December 13, 2018

              We’d have to have the criminals in chain gangs helping with roading projects to make room in the prisons for politicians. But don’t get me started Maureen, I’m not in the mood 😉

          • Mefrostate

             /  December 13, 2018

            @MaureenW.

            Firstly, Mueller was charged to “investigate links between the Trump campaign and Russia” and “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation”. Cohen’s payments were discovered in the course of the investigation, so they clearly fall within scope.

            Secondly, this investigation and prosecution were done by the Southern District of New York, not Mueller. Mueller handed it off to the SDNY in April 2018 with the advice of Rosenstein, possibly as insurance against Trump firing Mueller, or possibly to head off Trump’s rhetoric about “nothing to do with Russia” (which, it sounds like, you would have gobbled up).