After pleading guilty to crimes ranging from tax fraud to campaign finance violations, Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in jail on Wednesday. The defense team for President Donald Trump's former personal attorney had asked the federal district judge to let Cohen off with no prison time, but that request apparently didn't fly.
"Recently the President tweeted a statement calling me weak and it was correct but for a much different reason than he was implying," Cohen said in court on Wednesday, per CNN. "It was because time and time again I felt it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds."
Special counsel Robert Mueller referred Cohen's case to federal prosecutors in New York as part of the FBI investigation into Donald Trump's 2016 campaign. In August, Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations, tax fraud, making false statements to a financial institution, and unlawful corporate contributions charges. He then pleaded guilty to lying to Congress last month.
He faced 51 to 63 months in jail based on the sentencing guidelines for his crimes, according to prosecutors from the Southern District of New York. They asked the court to give Cohen a "substantial" prison sentence in a court filing obtained by The New York Times, citing his "extensive, deliberate, and serious criminal conduct" that prosecutors believe was "motivated by personal greed and ambition."
Though Cohen isn't the first person to be sentenced in Mueller's probe, he was closer to the president — which means his sentence could pose a greater threat to Trump.
Cohen's first guilty plea implicated a "candidate for federal office," who Cohen said directed him to pay $130,000 to a woman who said she had an affair with Trump. The description fit Stormy Daniels, the adult film star who claims she had an affair with Trump in 2006 (which he has repeatedly denied).
The president has admitted to the payment, but claimed it was a "simple private transaction" rather than a campaign contribution. Despite his apparent sense of calm regarding Mueller's probe, Trump has repeatedly lashed out at Cohen for turning on him.
"If anyone is looking for a good lawyer, I would strongly suggest that you don’t retain the services of Michael Cohen!" he tweeted after Cohen's first guilty plea.
When Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress, he said he misled investigators about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow because he was sticking to with Trump’s "political messaging," as The Times reports. The revelation that he was in contact with Russians during the 2016 election raised further questions about what else Mueller's team may have dug up on the Trump campaign's interactions with Russia.
Cohen told the court on Wednesday that "today is one of the most meaningful days of my life," as CNN reports. "I have been living in a personal and mental incarceration ever since the day that I accepted the offer to work for a real estate mogul whose business acumen that I deeply admired," he said.