Michael Cohen sentenced to 3 years in prison

By Meg Wagner, Brian Ries, Veronica Rocha and Amanda Wills, CNN
3:21 p.m. ET, December 12, 2018
11:33 a.m. ET, December 12, 2018

Lawyer: Cohen had the "misfortune to have been counsel to the President"

From CNN's Erica Orden

Michael Cohen's lawyer, Guy Petrillo, said Cohen has been treated unlike other defendants by prosecutors, noting that "Mr. Cohen had the misfortune to have been counsel to the President." 

Cohen long served as the President's personal attorney and Trump's "fixer." Cohen even once boasted he would "take a bullet" to protect his longtime boss.

Petrillo, in court today, said Cohen wants to cooperate but that "he’s wary of a long term cooperation agreement."

"He wants both to remove himself and remove his family from the glare of the cameras," he said.

11:29 a.m. ET, December 12, 2018

Cohen's lawyer, comparing Mueller's investigation to Watergate, says his client came forward "against the most powerful person in our country"

From CNN's Erica Orden

Michael Cohen's lawyer Guy Petrillo, addressing the court, said that his client "came forward to offer evidence against the most powerful person in our country," alluding to Cohen's testimony about President Trump.

Cohen, Petrillo said, couldn't "anticipate the full measure of attack that would be made against him" by both the President and "partisans and citizens who happen to be aligned with the President."

"Those attacks include threats against his family," Petrillo said.

Petrillo said special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election "is of utmost national significance, no less than seen 40 years ago in Watergate."

Petrillo also noted Cohen's actions "stand in profound contrast to the decision of some others not to cooperate and allegedly to double deal while pretending to cooperate."

11:25 a.m. ET, December 12, 2018

Michael Cohen's in-laws don't think he's coming home today

CNN caught up with Michael Cohen's in-laws, Fima and Ania Shusterman, as they made their way to court this morning. Asked it they felt Cohen would be coming home today, they were doubtful.

CNN: Do you think he’ll be coming home today?
Shusterman: "I don’t think so."

Cohen pleaded guilty in August to two campaign finance violations tied to payments he made or orchestrated to women during the campaign to stay silent about alleged sexual encounters with Trump, five counts of tax fraud and one count of making false statements to a bank.

The Manhattan US Attorney's office has asked for Cohen to receive a "substantial" sentence of roughly four years.

Watch below:

11:13 a.m. ET, December 12, 2018

Here's how the judge explained the sentencing guidelines

From CNN's Erica Orden

US District Court Judge William Pauley III is speaking in court and addressing the discrepancy between how the defense and the government view the grouping of the counts against Michael Cohen for the purposes of sentencing.

Pauley says the government's argument is correct in terms of how to group the tax evasion counts for sentencing purposes.

Here's how the guidelines break down, according to Pauley:

  • For the charges from New York prosecutors: Cohen's guideline range is 51 to 63 months in prison
  • For the special counsel charges: The guideline range is zero to six months of imprisonment
11:00 a.m. ET, December 12, 2018

The sentencing has started

The Michael Cohen sentencing just started at the Manhattan federal courthouse.

Cohen's sentence today will be the result of both the special counsel's investigation and a related case from Manhattan federal prosecutors.

He is facing years in prison: The Manhattan US attorney's office has asked for Cohen to receive a "substantial" sentence of roughly four years. Meanwhile, special counsel Robert Mueller's office did not give a sentence recommendation but said Cohen had cooperated with its inquiries.

10:21 a.m. ET, December 12, 2018

Michael Cohen just arrived at the courthouse

Michael Cohen has arrived at the Manhattan federal courthouse for his sentencing, accompanied by his wife, daughter and son.

His sentencing is set to begin at 11 a.m. ET.

Watch the moment below:

10:56 a.m. ET, December 12, 2018

Cohen's sentencing is the result of two separate cases

From CNN's Erica Orden and Jeremy Herb

Cohen's sentence today will be the result of both the special counsel's investigation and a related case from Manhattan federal prosecutors.

Here's what you need to know about the two cases:

  • The case from Manhattan federal prosecutors: Cohen pleaded guilty in August to two campaign finance violations tied to payments he had made or orchestrated to women during the campaign to stay silent about alleged sexual encounters with Trump, five counts of tax fraud and one count of making false statements to a bank. The Manhattan US attorney's office, which brought those charges, has asked for Cohen to receive a "substantial" sentence of roughly four years.
  • The case from Robert Mueller: Cohen also pleaded guilty last month to a charge from Mueller's office of lying to Congress about how long discussions involving a proposed Trump Tower in Moscow had extended into the 2016 campaign. The special counsel's office did not give a sentence recommendation but said Cohen had cooperated with its inquiries.
10:55 a.m. ET, December 12, 2018

Why prosecutors say Cohen acted at Trump's direction when he broke the law

 From CNN's Erica Orden and Marshall Cohen

Federal prosecutors said for the first time Friday that Michael Cohen acted at the direction of Trump when the former fixer committed two election-related crimes during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Prosecutors wrote, "In particular, and as Cohen himself has now admitted, with respect to both payments, he acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1." Individual-1 is the term prosecutors have been using to refer to the President.

Why it matters: In August, Cohen pleaded guilty to eight federal crimes after being charged by Manhattan federal prosecutors. Those included tax fraud, making false statements to a bank and campaign-finance violations tied to his work for Trump, including payments Cohen made or helped orchestrate that were designed to silence women who claimed affairs with the then-presidential candidate. Trump has denied those claims.

Read Cohen's sentencing memos here.

10:55 a.m. ET, December 12, 2018

5 key takeaways from Cohen's court filing

From CNN's Jeremy Herb, Katelyn Polantz and Marshall Cohen

Court documents released Friday by special counsel Robert Mueller and federal prosecutors detail the alleged lies Donald Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen told both publicly and to the special counsel's investigators.

Here are the key takeaways:

  1. For the first time, federal prosecutors say that Trump directed Cohen to make payments designed to silence women who claimed affairs with Trump.
  2. Mueller's memo lays out how the Trump Tower Moscow project is relevant to Russia's election meddling during the 2016 campaign.
  3. Cohen's lies, some of which he admitted to in a guilty plea last week, included lying to the special counsel investigators about the Trump Tower Moscow project after offering to cooperate. Mueller's team says he eventually took responsibility for his lies, later explaining he was trying not to contradict his congressional testimony.
  4. Prosecutors explained that Cohen's effort to lie about the Moscow project continuing through June 2016 were an effort to alter the investigation.
  5. While the special counsel's office does not make a recommendation to give Cohen reduced prison time, Mueller still says that Cohen was a cooperative witness.

Watch: Toobin outlines Mueller's Cohen documents