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Trump’s legal, political peril grows

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Fixer Cohen gets 3 years in prison as Enquirer admits hush fund deal

Associated Press

NEW YORK

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s one-time fixer, was sentenced Wednesday to three years in prison for crimes that included arranging the payment of hush money during the presidential campaign to conceal his boss’s alleged sexual affairs, telling a judge that “blind loyalty” led him to cover up Trump’s “dirty deeds.”

Separately, the legal and political peril surrounding Trump appeared to deepen when prosecutors announced that another piece of the investigation had fallen into place: The parent company of the National Enquirer acknowledged dispensing some of the hush money in concert with the Trump campaign to fend off a scandal that could have damaged his White House bid.

Cohen, 52, shook his head slightly and closed his eyes as a judge pronounced his sentence for evading taxes, lying about Trump’s business dealings and violating campaign-finance laws in buying the silence of two women who claimed they had sex with the candidate. Cohen and federal prosecutors have said the payments were made at Trump’s direction to influence the election.

“It was my own weakness and a blind loyalty to this man that led me to choose a path of darkness over light,” said Cohen, a lawyer who once boasted he would “take a bullet” for Trump. “Time and time again, I thought it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds rather than listen to my voice.”

The twin developments represented a double dose of bad news for the president, who ignored reporters’ questions about Cohen during an appearance at the White House later in the day.

Cohen is the first and, so far, only member of Trump’s circle during two years of investigations to go into open court and implicate the president in a crime, though whether a president can be prosecuted under the Constitution is an open question.

In a possible sign of further trouble for the president, Cohen said he will continue cooperating with prosecutors, and one of his legal advisers said Cohen is also prepared to tell “all he knows” to Congress if asked.

At the sentencing, defense attorney Guy Petrillo pleaded for leniency in light of Cohen’s cooperation with investigators, saying, “He came forward to offer evidence against the most powerful person in our country.”