President Donald Trump’s former attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, will be sentenced by a federal judge Wednesday in the Southern District of New York. The case was referred to federal prosecutors in New York by special counsel Robert Mueller during his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible ties to the Trump campaign.
Cohen once said he would “take a bullet” for his boss, but this fall turned against Trump and agreed to cooperate with attorneys for the special counsel and federal prosecutors when he was facing indictment for tax fraud and campaign finance violations, among other crimes.
But Cohen did not share enough information to avoid jail time and should still be sent to prison, federal prosecutors argued in a court document filed last week. How much time is Cohen facing? Here’s a closer look ahead of the sentencing Wednesday:
The charges: In August, Cohen pleaded guilty to a series of crimes brought by the prosecutors for the Southern District of New York: five counts of tax fraud, one count of falsifying financial statements, one count of unlawful corporate contributions, and one count of excessive campaign contributions. The case, referred to the district by Mueller’s team, involved his business dealings as well as his work for Trump’s campaign, including payments to silence two women who claimed affairs with the then-presidential candidate. Those payments violated campaign finance laws, prosecutors say. In November, Cohen also pleaded guilty to the special counsel’s charge of lying to Congress about an abandoned deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
What Cohen’s team says: Cohen’s attorneys, Guy Petrillo and Amy Lester, asked the judge in the Southern District of New York case not to give Cohen any prison time at all. In a 33-page sentencing memorandum issued last month, Petrillo and Lester stressed that Cohen has cooperated with the special counsel and other investigators, adding that doing so meant not only foregoing the possibility of a presidential pardon, but also enduring a “raw, full-bore attack by the most powerful person in the United States.” Cohen, they argued, has taken full responsibility for his crimes, strived to make amends and shown personal resolve that should relieve him of serving time.
What the Southern District of New York says: In a court filing Friday, federal prosecutors rejected Petrillo and Lester’s argument that Cohen cooperated fully with investigators, writing that Cohen’s efforts “fell well short” of that standard. Prosecutors cited federal sentencing guidelines of 51 to 63 months. But they also recommended a “modest variance” from the guidelines to reflect his partial cooperation, though they didn’t specify exactly how much time that would be.
What the probation department says: The Probation Department for the Southern District of New York recommended Cohen receive a sentence of 42 months and a $100,000 fine, according to sentencing memo prosecutors filed Friday. But the memo noted that this recommendation did not consider Cohen’s cooperation in the special counsel probe, a factor that could lower his sentence.
What the special counsel says: Mueller’s team filed its own sentencing memorandum Friday detailing the extent of Cohen’s cooperation with the Russia investigation. In it, attorneys for the special counsel acknowledged Cohen’s “significant efforts” to atone for his crimes by cooperating with the probe, but did not request Cohen receive additional prison time. Mueller’s team recommended instead that Cohen serve any sentences he gets concurrently.
What about Trump? In the new filing, federal prosecutors for the first time drew a direct link between Cohen’s illegal campaign contribution and Trump. They wrote that Cohen “acted in coordination with and at the direction” of Trump when orchestrating the payments. It’s not clear at the moment what prosecutors plan to do with that discovery.