Trump says he 'never directed' Michael Cohen to break law

Michael Cohen right US President Donald Trump's former lawyer arrives at federal court for his sentencing for dodging taxes lying to Congress and violating campaign finance laws in New York, Dec. 12 2018

Ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen jailed for three years

Cohen is the latest Trump associate to be swept up in Mueller's investigation following Trump's campaign chair Paul Manafort, former deputy campaign chair Rick Gates and former national security adviser Michael Flynn, among others.

Michael Cohen, the former lawyer to Donald Trump who once said he'd take a bullet for the president, has been given a 36-month prison sentence.

In morning tweets, Trump, however, did not dispute that he had directed Cohen to make the payments, as Cohen and federal prosecutors have alleged - actions that could imperil Trump.

When he pleaded guilty in August, Mr. Cohen told court he arranged the payments "at the direction of a candidate for federal office".

"A significant term of imprisonment is fully justified in this highly publicized case to send a message", the judge said.

In Friday's huge filings by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the Southern District of NY, investigators said that Individual-1 became president in 2017, and over the course of 37 combined pages, Individual 1 was mentioned 30 times, including Robert Mueller restating Cohen's implication of Trump in his guilty plea.

Cohen has been ordered to hand himself in on March 6 to start his sentence.

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He gave Cohen two months for lying to Congress about a proposed Trump Tower project in Russian Federation.

Mr Trump, who calls Mr Mueller's inquiry a "witch hunt", has repeatedly criticised his former ally since he began co-operating with investigators.

Last month, Cohen also pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about Trump's business dealings in Russian Federation.

Cohen said it was his "blind loyalty" to the president that led him to ignore his own "moral compass" and "cover up [Mr Trump's] dirty deeds".

The president denies the affair.

Prosecutors have said Cohen, just before the November 2016 election, paid Daniels $130,000 and helped arrange the $150,000 payment to McDougal so the women would keep quiet. But according to The New York Times, Trump treated Cohen "poorly, with gratuitous insults, dismissive statements and, at least twice, threats of being fired".

Michael Avenatti, Daniels' lawyer, attended the sentencing and told reporters outside the courthouse, "Michael Cohen is neither a hero nor a patriot".

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"Each of these crimes standing alone warrant considerable punishment", Pauley said, adding that Cohen was "motivated by personal greed and ambition".

Everyone in that courtroom, including the judge, concluded that you directed Cohen to commit a crime.

'There will come a time after Mr. Mueller is done with his work that Michael Cohen will be sitting in front of a microphone before a congressional committee and what he has to say about the truth will be judged by the members of Congress listening and then will be up to people to decide whether he has got the facts or not, ' Davis told Bloomberg.

Trump, who has denied the affairs with both women and called the payments "a simple private transaction", continued to falsely claim that the payments had nothing to do with campaign finance.

Lawyer Lanny Davis, who has advised Cohen, praised Cohen for cooperating and said he would continue to do so. Nicolas Roos, the assistant USA attorney who prosecuted Cohen in the Southern District, asserted that allowing Cohen to engage in "selective cooperation" would "send the wrong message" that such behavior is rewarded.

On Wednesday, federal prosecutors also announced a cooperation deal with the National Enquirer's parent company, in which it acknowledged paying McDougal to "suppress the woman's story" and "prevent it from influencing the election".

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