Donald Trump’s ex-lawyer Michael Cohen jailed for three years

Michael Cohen walks out of a court building in New York the United States Dec 12 2018

Cohen, Trump's former attorney, was sentenced to three years in prison this week for a wide range of charges, including lying to Congress and violating campaign finance laws. He had told prosecutors during his guilty plea that Trump had directed him to make the hush money payments.

Cohen pleads guilty to campaign finance violations and other charges, saying he and Trump arranged the payments of hush money to Daniels and McDougal to influence the election. The violations relate to almost $300,000 in payments made to two women - former Playboy model Karen McDougal and adult film star Stormy Daniels - who say they had sexual liaisons with Trump.

When asked why the American public should now believe he is telling the truth, Cohen replied, "Because the special counsel [Robert Mueller] stated emphatically that the information that I gave to them was credible and helpful.

He was a lawyer and he is supposed to know the law", Trump said.

"I just reviewed the documents ... in order to protect [Trump]". The sentence represents the longest prison sentenced imposed to date in connection with special prosecutor Robert Mueller's investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation. Federal law requires contributions of "anything of value" to a campaign be disclosed, and an individual donation can not exceed US$2,700.

"At the appropriate time, after Mr Mueller completes his investigation and issues his final report, I look forward to assisting Michael to state publicly all he knows about Mr Trump and that includes any appropriate congressional committee interested in the search for truth and the difference between facts and lies", Davis said in a statement.

US District Judge William Pauley gave Cohen three years for the payments, and unrelated crimes of tax evasion and misleading banks.

Later on, Cohen talked about Trump the man, and how he doesn't recognize the president as the same person he worked for at the Trump Organization.

But legal analysts said the accusations against Trump could amount to a felony because they revolve around an alleged conspiracy to hide payments from campaign contribution reports - and from voters.

Trump has said there was no collusion with the Kremlin, which denies USA intelligence agencies' findings that it interfered in the election that saw Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton. "And it is sad that I should take responsibility for his dirty deeds".

"I am done with the lying", he added. According to Mr Cohen's lawyer, his client had the "misfortune" of being the president's personal lawyer, business partner and all-around fixer for more than a decade.

Cohen also pleaded guilty to making false statements to Congress - a charge stemming from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into whether Trump's 2016 presidential campaign colluded with Russian Federation to get him elected.

Trump has also repeatedly denied having affairs with McDougal and Daniels and called the payouts "a simple private transaction".

Cohen, who pleaded guilty to all the charges against him, told the court that he had felt it was his "duty to cover up".

Trump's tweets on Thursday offered another layer of defense: that he had done "nothing wrong with respect to campaign finance laws, if they even apply, because this was not campaign finance".

But federal prosecutors in Manhattan said his refusal to cooperate fully made it impossible to vet his criminal history or know how good a witness he would be.

"Lay off Twitter, run the country the way that we all thought that you would, be able to take the Democrats, Republicans, bring them together and bring the country together instead of dividing the country", he said.

"I never directed him to do anything wrong", Trump said of Cohen in an interview with Fox News broadcast on Thursday.

The raid was overseen by the US attorney's office in Manhattan and arose from a referral from special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian election interference.

Prosecutors in NY have reached a cooperation agreement with American Media Inc. "If it were, it's only civil, and even if it's only civil, there was no violation based on what we did", Trump said.

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