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.