A judge sentenced U.S. President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen to a total of three years in prison Wednesday over hush money payments to two women during the 2016 election campaign and for lying to Congress.
Cohen, who was once Trump’s devoted lawyer, was given three years in jail for his payments to Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal during Trump’s election, which violated campaign finance law.
He was also given two months for lying to Congress about a potential Trump Organization real-estate project in Russia that occurred during the 2016 presidential election campaign.
Cohen, 52, had previously pleaded guilty to both cases, but the judge said his co-operation with prosecutors “does not wipe the slate clean” of his crimes.
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“Somewhere along the way, Mr. Cohen appears to have lost his moral compass,” the judge said. “As a lawyer, Mr. Cohen should have known better.”
Trump had repeatedly called for a tough sentence for Cohen, whom he labelled a liar.
In his statement to the judge on Wednesday, he said he takes “full responsibility” for the crimes he admitted to committing. But he also said his “blind loyalty” to Trump made him feel a duty to “cover up” the president’s “dirty deeds.”
“This may seem hard to believe,” CNN reported Cohen saying in court, “but today is one of the most meaningful days of my life. I have been living in a personal and mental incarceration ever since the day that I accepted the offer to work for a real-estate mogul whose business acumen that I deeply admired.”
Cohen has been ordered to surrender on March 6.
WATCH: Michael Cohen departs courthouse following sentencing.
In August he pleaded guilty to charges by federal prosecutors saying he paid Daniels $130,000 and helped arrange a $150,000 payment to McDougal so the women would keep quiet about their relationships with Trump, who is married. Trump denies having the affairs.
Prosecutors have said the payments violated campaign finance laws. Cohen told prosecutors the payments were directed by Trump, implicating the president in a possible campaign finance law violation.
Federal law requires that the contribution of “anything of value” to a campaign must be disclosed, and an individual donation cannot exceed $2,700.
Last month, Cohen also admitted he lied to Congress about the timeline for discussions about plans for real-estate businessman Trump’s skyscraper in Moscow.
The charges were brought by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russia’s role in the 2016 election and possible co-ordination between Trump’s campaign and Moscow.
WATCH: Michael Cohen is a ‘weak person’ who is ‘lying,’ Trump says
Trump has denied any collusion with Russia and has accused Mueller’s team of pressuring his former aides to lie about him, his campaign and his business dealings.
— With files from Reuters and the Associated Press