Michael Cohen and his family leave their Trump Park Avenue Apartment in New York City and head down to court as he faced sentencing Wednesday

Source: Daily Mail

A federal judge on Thursday sentenced longtime Donald Trump lawyer Michael Cohen to three years in jail for a series of crimes to which he pleaded guilty, saying his cooperation with the Russia probe ‘does not wipe the slate clean.’

Cohen, a lawyer, ‘should have known better,’ said the judge, following dramatic courtroom arguments that featured repeated references to President Trump – including his attacks on Cohen as ‘weak’ and a ‘rat’ and Cohen’s own explanation of why he decided to provide information against him.

Cohen won’t have to report to jail until March 6, and could still get a further discount to his time if he cooperates.

An anguished Cohen pleaded with a Judge William Pauley to be able to stay out of jail, and expressed regret for trying to cover up former employer Donald Trump’s ‘dirty deeds.’

He also will have to hand over to the government nearly $2 million in combined restitution and fines. He must report to the federal prison in Otisville, New York, an upstate minimum security prison.

The tearful longtime Donald Trump lawyer took on Trump – who he once said he would ‘take a bullet for’ – for having called him ‘weak’ in an attack last month.

‘Recently the president tweeted a statement calling me weak and it was correct, but for a much different reason than he was implying,’ Cohen told a federal judge in open court. ‘It was because time and time again I felt it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds,’ Cohen said.

He blasted President Trump for ‘calling me a rat,’ and criticized his longtime employer for trying to sway a proceeding that could in fact ‘implicate’ him.

‘I will continue to cooperate’ with investigators, Cohen said

But after the judge handed down the sentence, Cohen walked past reporters outside the federal courthouse and entered a vehicle without comment.

Cohen headed to federal court in New York Wednesday to face sentencing after prosecutors in New York recommended he get ‘substantial’ jail time – as his attorney lauded his willingness to testify against the president.

In a courtroom plea for leniency, Cohen’s lawyer, Guy Petrillo, described his client as a brave witness who came forward with evidence ‘against the most powerful person in our country’ – and tried to draw a contrast with former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, who prosecutors say committed ‘lies’ despite agreeing to cooperate.

He did so without being able to ‘anticipate the full measure of attack that would be made against him,’ his lawyer argued.

Petrillo called it a ‘profound contrast’ with others who decided to allegedly ‘double deal,’ CNN reported.

‘He knew that the president might shut down the investigation,’ Petrillo said, Courthouse News reported.

His lawyers also pushed back at SDNY, which in its sentencing memo pointed out that Cohen never reached a cooperation agreement.

‘He is wary of a long-term cooperation agreement for personal reasons,’ saying Cohen was operating based on concerns for his family and wanting to avoid the ‘glare of the cameras.’

A person who reaches a cooperation agreement in New York is expected to answer all the government’s questions and reveal all about any criminal activity they know about.

Jeannie Rhee, representing Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, said Cohen provided ‘credible’ information about ‘any links between a campaign and a foreign government’ and ‘sought to tell us the truth.’

But Rhee was circumspect, noting there was ‘only so much we can say … given our ongoing investigation.’

But there was a split between prosecutors. Federal prosecutors based in New York inveighed against Cohen trying to engage in ‘selective cooperation.’

The charges he pleaded guilty to ‘portray a pattern of deception, of brazenness and of greed,’ argued Nicolas Roos, arguing for the Southern District of New York.

Trump late last month called Cohen ‘a weak person and not a very smart person.’

 Cohen is subject to forfeiture of $500,000, the amount sought by prosecutors, as well as restitution of $1.4 million and a $50,000 fine.

Cohen advisor Lanny Davis issued a statement saying: ‘Michael has owned up to his mistakes and fully cooperated with Special Counsel Mueller in his investigation over possible Trump campaign collusion with Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

‘While Mr. Mueller gave Michael significant credit for cooperation on the ‘core’ issues, it is unfortunate that SDNY prosecutors did not do the same. To me, their judgment showed a lack of appropriate proportionality,’ he added.

In a signal that Cohen has more information, Davis said he looked forward to helping Cohen speak publicly about ‘all he knows about Mr. Trump.’

Stormy Daniels attorney Michael Avenatti was on hand for sentencing, and spoke before the cameras afterwards.

‘He deserves every day of a 36 month sentence that he will serve,’ said Avenatti.

Cohen left his Park Avenue apartment in Manhattan, accompanied by his wife Laura, along with his two children, as he went to learn his fate after prosecutors in New York argued he should get a ‘substantial’ sentence.