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Sunday, December 08, 2019

Michael Cohen, by turns lawyer and witness, becomes an inmate

Cohen, the US president’s former fixer and current antagonist, reported to the federal prison in Otisville, New York, to begin serving his sentence for campaign finance violations, tax evasion and other crimes.

By: New York Times | Published: May 7, 2019 9:41:38 am
Michael Cohen, by turns lawyer and witness, becomes an inmate Michael Cohen leaves his home in Manhattan. Cohen was headed to the federal prison in Otisville, N.Y., on Monday, where he is to begin serving his sentence for campaign finance violations, tax evasion and other crimes. (John Taggart/The New York Times)

By Maggie Haberman, Ben Protess and William K. Rashbaum

He spoke eight times with Robert Mueller’s investigators, appeared before three congressional committees and helped federal prosecutors with at least two criminal inquiries into President Donald Trump’s inner circle. But on Monday, perhaps the most important number in Michael Cohen’s life will be 1,095: the number of days in a three-year prison term.

Cohen, the president’s former fixer and current antagonist, reported to the federal prison in Otisville, New York, to begin serving his sentence for campaign finance violations, tax evasion and other crimes. He pleaded guilty last year to arranging a hush money scheme in the final weeks of the 2016 presidential campaign, involving two women who said they had had affairs with Trump.

Before leaving Manhattan Monday morning, Cohen spoke briefly with reporters.

“I hope that when I rejoin my family and friends, that the country will be in a place without xenophobia, injustice and lies at the helm of our country,” he said before ducking into a black SUV for the two-hour drive to Otisville. “There still remains much to be told and I look forward to the day that I can share the truth.”

Cohen, who implicated the president in the hush money scheme, was among the earliest subjects of Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Although the special counsel’s office ultimately handed over the Cohen investigation to federal prosecutors in Manhattan, Cohen was a central figure in Mueller’s report.

But Cohen’s sentence has also become a reminder of what the special counsel’s report did not do: directly accuse the president of a crime.

As Cohen heads to prison, the president is newly emboldened and the nation divided over whether the report let Trump off the hook. And unless the president or any of his family members face charges in the years to come, Cohen may go down as an unlikely big fish caught in the net of Trump World investigations.

“He’s going to jail and the president is still flying around on Air Force One,” said Donny Deutsch, a friend of Cohen and the host of “Saturday Night Politics With Donny Deutsch” on MSNBC. “There’s something wrong with that, period. No matter how you feel about Michael, no matter how you feel about the president, that to me is not justice.”

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