Donald Trump’s one-time personal lawyer Michael Cohen entered federal prison to serve a three-year sentence Monday for a crime he said was ordered by the US president, suggesting he still has more to tell about his former boss.
Cohen, 52, was sentenced to prison in December after admitting he paid hush money during the 2016 presidential election — in violation of electoral laws — to two women who said they had had affairs with Trump, committed tax fraud, and lied to Congress.
“There still remains much to be told. And I look forward to the day that I can share the truth,” he told reporters as he left his Manhattan residence for the federal prison in Otisville, New York.
“I hope 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.
Hours later the onetime vice president and key problem-fixer at the Trump Organization arrived at the rural prison north of New York City, becoming the second former top Trump aide serving hefty terms for multiple criminal offenses, after former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
His lawyer Lanny Davis said Cohen was the victim of “selective prosecution and disproportionate sentencing and will continue to help prosecutors investigating the president.
“I will continue questioning why Michael 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.
Cohen: Trump ordered hush payments
Cohen, who worked for the real estate tycoon for a decade, fell out with the president after telling prosecutors and Congress that he was ordered to make the hush payments by Trump himself.
He showed evidence that Trump and his son signed reimbursement checks for the payoffs, which were made to keep two women silent about their alleged affairs with Trump in the weeks before the November 2016 presidential election.
“I didn’t work for the campaign. I worked for him. And how come I’m the one that’s going to prison? I’m not the one that slept with the porn star,” Cohen said in an interview with The New Yorker, referring to one of the women.
After it became clear that Cohen was cooperating with investigators, Trump denigrated him as “weak” and a “rat” ready to make up any lies necessary to avoid prison.
The White House had no comment Monday about Cohen’s entering prison.
But in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, current Trump Organization executive vice president George Sorial dismissed Cohen as someone of few abilities who Trump kept on for years out of loyalty.
“Michael wasn’t much of a lawyer,” Sorial wrote. “He wasn’t trusted to run his own department” and “wasn’t good enough to be given real control.”
“He knows he’ll be remembered for turning on those most loyal to him.”
Hoped for reduced sentence
But Cohen’s case and testimony provided some of the most damaging information on Trump, leading to speculation that New York prosecutors might be reserving charges against the president until after he leaves office — the earliest of which would be January 2021.
Father of two children in their 20s, Cohen had hoped until the last moment that his sentence would be reduced based on his readiness to cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election meddling, and, separately, New York prosecutors.
Now disbarred and low on cash, Cohen has mentioned plans to write a book and have his experiences made into a film.
That would follow the footsteps of Richard Nixon’s former lawyer John Dean, who pleaded guilty for having bought the silence of the Watergate scandal burglars in the early 1970s, and then wrote a book about his experience.
The Otisville prison conditions should allow Cohen to spend at least some time on such projects.
He is due to be held in the detention center’s low-security “camp,” which holds detainees who are not considered to be dangerous, including many other white-collar criminals.
Practicing Jews like Cohen who are sentenced to federal prison often request to be placed at Otisville because it provides kosher meals and detainees are allowed to follow the Shabbat day of rest.
The 120-some prisoners of this wing of the center can use libraries, as well as basketball and tennis courts, while wearing their beige uniforms.