Sat | Jan 19, 2019

Ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen faces possible jail sentence

Published:Wednesday | December 12, 2018 | 9:44 AM
In this November. 29, 2018, file photo, Michael Cohen walks out of federal court in New York. The moment of reckoning has nearly arrived for Cohen, who finds out Wednesday, December 12, 2018, whether his decision to walk away from President Donald Trump after years of unwavering loyalty will spare him from a harsh prison sentence. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Michael Cohen, a lawyer who made his career protecting President Donald Trump, is set to learn Wednesday whether his decision to cooperate with federal investigators will lessen his punishment for crimes including making illegal hush-money payments to two women during the 2016 campaign — a scandal that could damage Trump’s presidency.

A federal judge in New York is set to decide whether Cohen gets leniency or years in prison for campaign finance violations, tax evasion and lying to Congress about the president’s past business dealings in Russia.

Cohen, 52, is due to appear at 11 a.m. at a courthouse in Manhattan for a sentencing hearing before U.S. District Judge William Pauley III.

Under federal sentencing guidelines, he stands to get about four years in prison, but his lawyers have argued for leniency.

Some of Cohen’s crimes, they said, were motivated by over enthusiasm for Trump, rather than any nefarious intent.

He has pleaded guilty to misleading Congress about his work on a proposal to build a Trump skyscraper in Moscow, hiding the fact that he continued to speak with Russians about the proposal well into the presidential campaign.

Cohen also pleaded guilty in August to breaking campaign finance laws by helping orchestrate payments to silence former Playboy model Karen McDougal and adult film actress Stormy Daniels, who said they had sexual encounters with Trump while he was married.

For weeks, Cohen’s legal strategy appeared to revolve around persuading the court that he is a reformed man who abandoned longtime friendships and gave up his livelihood when he decided to cut ties with the president and speak with federal investigators. Cohen’s lawyers have said in court filings that their client could have stayed on the president’s side and angled himself for a presidential pardon.

New York prosecutors have urged a judge to sentence Cohen to a substantial prison term, saying he’d failed to fully cooperate and overstated his helpfulness.

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