Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer who pleaded guilty to tax, bank and campaign finance crimes, reported to prison Monday after spending months trying to delay his punishment by dangling the prospect of new incriminating information against others.
“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,” Cohen said. “There still remains much to be told, and I look forward to the day that I can share the truth.”
Cohen then climbed into a black SUV, which arrived at the federal prison shortly before noon.
Cohen, once known as Trump’s bombastic “fixer,” pleaded guilty to five counts of tax evasion for concealing $4 million in income, lying to a bank that loaned him money and orchestrating $280,000 in payments that amounted to a secret campaign donation to Trump’s campaign.
He also pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the duration and nature of his discussions regarding a proposed Trump Tower project in Moscow.
For those crimes, he was sentenced in December to a total of three years in prison. He was originally due to begin serving his sentence in March, but the date was pushed back while Cohen testified before Congress and told congressional investigators and federal agents he had knowledge of other possible wrongdoing.
Since his guilty plea, Cohen has publicly blamed Trump for his legal woes, telling Congress in February, “My loyalty to Mr. Trump has cost me everything.”
Cohen attorney Lanny Davis said in a statement Monday that his client was the subject of “selective prosecution and disproportionate sentencing.”
Cohen “is the only person within the Trump organization to be prosecuted for crimes committed at the direction of and for the benefit of Mr. Trump,” Davis said. “Michael may be sentenced within the walls of a federal correctional institution. But the truth has no walls. Michael will continue to be accessible to congress and to federal, state, and local law enforcement.”
Cohen came under investigation in mid-2017 as special counsel Robert S. Mueller III examined his emails and phone records to determine whether he had conspired with any Russian officials to interfere in the 2016 election.
Mueller did not find evidence of that, but instead found records suggesting Cohen had for years dodged taxes on income from his New York City taxi medallion business.
Investigators also uncovered financial transactions in 2016 that showed Cohen bought the silence of two women who had claimed affairs with Trump.
Mueller referred those questions to federal prosecutors in New York, who eventually got a court order in 2018 to search Cohen’s home and office for records related to suspected crimes.
Cohen ultimately admitted arranging $280,000 in hush-money payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal “in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office.”
As law enforcement closed in on Cohen, Trump continued to deny knowledge of the hush payments — a statement that inadvertently gave federal prosecutors a stronger legal argument to search Cohen’s records for evidence of crimes.
Since Cohen began publicly attacking the president, Trump has repeatedly belittled him, branding him a “rat” for cooperating with prosecutors and suggesting he has committed additional crimes.
After Cohen’s congressional testimony, Trump tweeted: “Bad lawyer and fraudster Michael Cohen said under sworn testimony that he never asked for a Pardon. His lawyers totally contradicted him. He lied! Additionally, he directly asked me for a pardon. I said NO. He lied again! He also badly wanted to work at the White House. He lied!”
Matt Zapotosky contributed to this report.