Washington Post / YouTube Trump attorney Michael Cohen is under...
Washington Post / YouTube

Michael Cohen is in U.S. District court in New York City on Wednesday morning, appearing before Judge William Pauley to receive his sentence for tax evasion, bank fraud, and two felony violations of campaign finance law under the direction of Donald Trump. Cohen’s defense attorneys will get one last chance to discuss why they feel like Cohen should get a reduced sentence for his cooperation with federal prosecutors. They will suggest that Cohen has “already suffered” sufficiently in terms of loss of income, embarrassment, and brief periods of imprisonment, so he should receive no additional jail time.

The US attorney for the Southern District of New York will speak on why Cohen’s crimes are serious and his cooperation was incomplete. The earlier court filings from the SDNY suggested that Cohen receive only a “modest” reduction from what would normally be a sentence of four to six years.

When the attorney’s are done, Judge Pauley will hand down his decision. Though Donald Trump is directly implicated in the campaign finance violations, it’s not clear how much his part in this will play in Cohen’s sentence.

In his final statement before the court, Cohen attempted to justify his actions based on how he bowed to Trump’s demands:

Cohen: Recently the president tweeted a statement calling me weak and it was correct but for a much different reason than he was implying. It was because time and time again i felt it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds.

Judge Pauley sentenced Cohen to 36 months, which is approximately two years off the recommended sentence and shorter than many observers expected. The sentence makes Cohen the first member of Trump’s campaign to receive substantial time in federal prison — though he’s unlikely to be the last.


Cohen’s attorney’s are starting out with a focus on how Cohen has cooperated specifically on the campaign finance charges. According to the attorneys, Cohen stood up to “the most powerful person” in the country by speaking out against Trump, and he should credited for this with a greater reduction than might be true in other cases.

Cohen’s attorney not only invokes Watergate, but specifically contrasts Cohen’s cooperation with Paul Manafort’s pretend-cooperation.

Cohen’s attorney has also spent considerable time on the bank fraud issue, claiming that while Cohen may have misrepresented facts and risk to banks “no bank ever lost money” in dealing with Cohen. The attorney has also dismissed the tax charges against Cohen as something that is often dealt with “in a non-criminal context.”

Sung to the tune of “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” …

And on the “not cooperating fully” front that was pressed by the SDNY in their documents. Cohen admits that he’s not cooperating fully, and apparently does not intend to.

That would not seem to be the kind of statement that generates favor with the judge.

You might also read that last statement as “Mikey isn’t going to talk about the mob.”

Jeannie Rhee is up, speaking for the Special Counsel’s Office. Rhee was formerly the Deputy Assistant Attorney General during the Obama administration, and is a specialist in cybersecurity.

That would be a real specialist in cybersecurity. Not a Rudy Giuliani “dot no-space” specialist.

Rhee’s whole statement took less time that it took me to write about it. She essentially said that the special counsel believes that Cohen “told the truth.” And sat down.

If Cohen was expecting the SCO to deliver a ringing endorsement … kinda no.

Now it’s time for Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicolas Roos. Expect all the nice stuff Cohen’s attorneys said about him to last about two seconds here.

Roos is shredding Cohen specifically on his actions regarding the campaign payments.

Roos has finished his statement, which was also relatively brief. Now Cohen himself will address the court.

If by “freedom” he means “genuine incarceration.” Then yes, yes he is.

And now, after a long pause and a few sniffles, Cohen is tearing into Trump.

Cohen finished. Now it’t time to hear from Judge Pauley.

Cohen said he was “weak” but not because he talked, but because “again and again” he covered up Trump’s “dirty deeds.”

Pauley is reading through the charges.

While hitting Cohen on the seriousness of all charges, Pauley makes a point of saying that the campaign finance crimes were “at the coordination with and the direction of Individual-1.”

Which seems a little coy based on the number of times Trump’s name has come up this morning.

The special counsel statements, and the document they filed earlier, does seem to be carrying weight with Judge Pauley.

Pauley speaks out in defense of cooperating agreements and their value in the justice system—which all on its own could be taken as a rebuke to Trump.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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