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Ex-Trump lawyer Cohen gets 3 years in prison

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Ex-Trump lawyer Cohen gets 3 years in prison

NEW YORK (AP) — Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s once-devoted lawyer and all-around fixer, was sentenced Wednesday to three years in prison after telling a federal judge that his “blind loyalty” to Trump led him to cover up the president’s “dirty deeds.”

Standing alone at the defense table, Cohen, 52, shook his head slightly and closed his eyes as the judge pronounced the sentence for crimes that included lying about his boss’ business dealings in Russia and funneling hush money to two women who said they had sex with Trump — payments that both Cohen and federal prosecutors said were made at Trump’s direction to fend off damage to his White House bid.

Cohen is the first and, so far, only member of Trump’s circle during two years of investigations to go into open court and implicate the president in a crime, though whether a president can be prosecuted under the Constitution is an open question.

Separately, prosecutors announced Wednesday that they filled in another piece of the puzzle in the hush-money case: The parent company of the National Enquirer acknowledged making one of those payments “in concert” with the Trump campaign to protect Trump from a story that could have hurt his candidacy.

At the sentencing, U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III said Cohen deserved modest credit for his decision over the summer to admit guilt and cooperate in the federal investigation of efforts by Russians to influence the 2016 presidential election, but his assistance “does not wipe the slate clean.”

“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.”

The judge also ordered Cohen to pay $1.39 million restitution, forfeit $500,000 and pay $100,000 in fines. He was ordered to report to prison March 6 and left court without comment.

The prison sentence was in line with what prosecutors asked for. Sentencing guidelines called for around four to five years, and the government asked in court papers that Cohen be given only a slight break.

“It was my own weakness and a blind loyalty to this man that led me to choose a path of darkness over light,” Cohen, who once boasted he would “take a bullet” for Trump, told the judge before the sentence came down. “Time and time again, I thought it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds rather than listen to my voice.”

Cohen got choked up near the end of his remarks and paused briefly to compose himself. His daughter, seated behind him, sobbed throughout. As he returned to his seat, he ran his hand across her cheek.

Cohen’s lawyers had argued for leniency, saying he decided to cooperate with investigators rather than hold out for a possible pardon.

“He came forward to offer evidence against the most powerful person in our country,” defense attorney Guy Petrillo told the judge.

Cohen pleaded guilty in August to evading $1.4 million in taxes related to his personal businesses. In the part of the case with greater political repercussions, he also admitted breaking campaign finance laws in arranging payments in the waning days of the 2016 election to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal.

Last month, he also pleaded guilty to lying to Congress by concealing that he was negotiating a proposal to build a Trump skyscraper in Moscow deep into the presidential campaign season. He said he lied out of devotion to Trump, who had insisted during the campaign that he had no business ties whatsoever to Russia.

The sentence was the culmination of a spectacular rise and fast fall of a lawyer who attached himself to the fortunes of his biggest client, helped him get elected president, then turned on him, cooperating with two interconnected investigations: one run by federal prosecutors in New York, the other by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the Russia investigation.

Beyond the guilty pleas, it is unclear exactly what Cohen has told prosecutors, and it remains to be seen how much damage Cohen’s cooperation will do to Trump. Legal experts said Cohen could get his sentence reduced if he strikes a deal with prosecutors to tell them more.

Cohen said in court that he will continue cooperating. And his legal adviser Lanny Davis, who previously represented President Bill Clinton, said the former political fixer will tell publicly “all he knows” about Trump after Mueller completes his investigation, and that includes testifying before Congress.

“Mr. Trump’s repeated lies cannot contradict stubborn facts,” Davis said in a statement.

In the hush-money case, prosecutors said, Cohen arranged for the parent company of the National Enquirer to pay $150,000 to McDougal. He also paid $130,000 to Daniels and was reimbursed by Trump’s business empire.

Prosecutors said the McDougal payment violated federal law against corporate campaign contributions, while the money that went to Daniels exceeded the $2,700 limit on campaign donations. Also, campaign contributions must be reported under law, and the two hush-money payments were not disclosed.

Shortly after Cohen’s sentencing, federal authorities announced a deal not to prosecute the National Enquirer’s parent, American Media Inc. As part of the deal, AMI admitted making the $150,000 payment to McDougal to buy her silence about the alleged affair and fend off damage to Trump’s candidacy.

In a court filing last week, the prosecutors left no doubt that they believe Cohen arranged the hush-money payments at Trump’s direction, saying the maneuver was part of an effort to “influence the election from the shadows.”

Trump had denied any sexual relationship with the women and argued on Twitter earlier this week that the payments to the women were “a simple private transaction,” not a campaign contribution. And if it was a prohibited contribution, Trump said, Cohen is the one who should be held responsible.

“Lawyer’s liability if he made a mistake, not me,” Trump wrote, adding, “Cohen just trying to get his sentence reduced. WITCH HUNT!”

An attorney for the Trump Organization did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

At the sentencing, a prosecutor in Mueller’s office, Jeannie Rhee, said Cohen has “sought to tell us the truth and that is of the utmost value to us” and has “provided consistent and credible information about core Russia-related issues under investigation.” She did not elaborate.

But the New York-based prosecutors who handled the case against Cohen had urged the judge to sentence him to a “substantial” prison term and said he failed to tell investigators everything he knows.

In addressing the judge, Cohen described the sentencing as “the day I am getting my freedom back.” He said he had suffered from a “personal and mental incarceration” ever since agreeing in 2007 to work for Trump, a man he admired. “I now know there is little to be admired,” Cohen said.

Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, who played a major role in exposing the hush-money discussions, said outside the courthouse: “We will not stop until the truth is known relating to the conduct of Donald Trump.” But he added: “Let me be clear, Michael Cohen is neither a hero nor a patriot” and “he deserves every day of the 36-month sentence he will serve.”

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Associated Press writer Jim Mustian contributed to this report.

___

This story has been corrected to fix “felt” to “thought” in Cohen’s quote about covering up “dirty deeds.”

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Guns and Crime

There are two beneficiaries to gun control, and you are I aren’t among them

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There are two beneficiaries to gun control and you are I arent among them

Gun control is all over the news as just about every Democrat and a growing number of Republican lawmakers are leaning towards some action that will “do something” about mass shootings in America. It’s so clearly an emotion-driven issue, as can be seen by the simple fact that gun control doesn’t work to stop gun violence. But just because gun control doesn’t make us safer doesn’t mean there aren’t people who will benefit from it once enacted.

The first is obvious. Criminals are clear beneficiaries of gun control because they have no intention of abiding by it. Their victims and potential victims, on the other had, are likely going to be compelled to undergo background checks, sign up for gun registries, or have their firearms confiscated in some “buyback” program. Gun control is the best news criminals have had since criminal justice reform.

The second is debatable, not because it isn’t unambiguously true but because these particular beneficiaries pretend they aren’t gaining from it. This is, of course, a lie. Politicians gain greatly from gun control. Not all of them do because not all of them are anti-American radical progressives who envision a nation that bows to socialism and the authoritarian control over our lives by a nanny state. But even those who are not radical progressives get the benefit of applause from the masses who have been indoctrinated into he belief guns are the problem, not criminals or the mentally ill.

When gun control comes around, and it almost certainly will, many Americans will cheer. This will be the same type of enthusiasm many happy sheep experience when they’re being taken to a brand new location. They never know until it’s too late they’re being led to the slaughter. Criminals will be cheering as their victims will be disarmed by laws that criminals, by their nature of living a life of crime, have no intention of obeying. Leftist politicians will cheer because they’ll be one step closer to the oppression they have planned through their socialist ideology.

Republican lawmakers who support gun control will cheer for a while until they realize the enthusiasm they once had from their base evaporated as quickly as our 2nd Amendment rights did when they decided to back gun control. By the time they try to spin it as a necessary evil or whatever other excuse they try to make, it will be too late for them. We will have already moved on to vote for lawmakers who are not willing to break their oath to defend the Constitution.

Criminals love gun control. Authoritarian politicians do, too. If you’re not a gun-toting felon or Marxist politician, then you will not benefit at all from gun control. In fact, its enactment in any form will make you less safe even if you don’t own a gun.

We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.

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Guns and Crime

The 2nd Amendment is a reminder to government of a right we inherently have

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The 2nd Amendment is a reminder to government of a right we inherently have

I’ll keep this brief. The 2nd Amendment is often mischaracterized by both the left and even its defenders on the right. To state it simply, our right to keep and bear arms is a natural right, one that is granted to everyone by powers higher than man.

Read it carefully: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Many misconstrue this as the founders giving us the right to bear arms by codifying it in the Bill of Rights. But in reality, this amendment was not intended to grant a right to anyone. It is simply a reminder of the existence of the right, an explanation of why this right is so important to the nation, and a decree that the right itself is above reproach from government.

Everybody is born with the right to defend themselves from tyranny whether that tyranny comes from our neighbors (criminals) or from oppressive forces domestic or foreign. In many countries, the government takes that right away. In America, we can forgo this right with our actions. Sometimes, it’s voluntary – nobody is forced to own or carry a firearm. Other times, it’s mandatory – the actions of criminals is used as a declaration that they willfully gave up their right keep and bear arms through their actions.

As for the rest of us, this right is absolute and unambiguous. Unless we use our firearms to commit crimes, government does not have the legal power to prevent us from keeping or bearing them.

We can get into the practical application of this principle at another time, but the principle behind the 2nd Amendment must be understood in order for any debates to move forward properly. Otherwise, one or both sides will be operating on a false premise.

Law-abiding gun owners are the true targets of all forms of gun control. We know this because the proposed measures will adversely affect us while doing nothing to stop violent criminals. Yes, the 2nd Amendment is under attack from our own government.

We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.

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Guns and Crime

California’s touted background checks yielded ZERO impact on gun deaths

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Californias touted background checks yield ZERO impact on gun deaths

As California goes, so too does the progressive side of the nation. California is where radical ideas are tried out and, in the vast majority of cases, fail miserably. Undeterred, progressives tend to look at these failures as successes waiting to happen eventually, so they beat the drum for whatever leftist legislation the state is able to pass. Such is the case with universal background checks which are now being pushed nationwide after California’s “groundbreaking” attempt to make them work.

They didn’t work. In fact, they can be chalked up as being a monumental failure to anyone who is honest. Sadly, the radical progressives of the Democrats Party are not honest, which is why they keep pushing these background checks as if they demonstrated some measure of success.

Many patriots already knew this. The non-partisan study into the effectiveness of background checks in reducing gun deaths told us late last year that they didn’t work. But that study has been suppressed, ignored, or “debunked” by leftists with a gun control agenda. They refuse to allow facts to get in the way of their agenda.

So, we’ll revisit it…

Johns Hopkins Study: California’s Background Check Law Had No Impact on Gun Deaths – Foundation for Economic Education

https://fee.org/articles/california-s-background-check-law-had-no-impact-on-gun-deaths-johns-hopkins-study-finds/A joint study conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the University of California at Davis Violence Prevention Research Program found that California’s much-touted mandated background checks had no impact on gun deaths, and researchers are puzzled as to why.

In 1991, California simultaneously imposed comprehensive background checks for firearm sales and prohibited gun sales (and gun possession) to people convicted of misdemeanor violent crimes. The legislation mandated that all gun sales, including private transactions, would have to go through a California-licensed Federal Firearms License (FFL) dealer. Shotguns and rifles, like handguns, became subject to a 15-day waiting period to make certain all gun purchasers had undergone a thorough background check.

It was the most expansive state gun control legislation in America, affecting an estimated one million gun buyers in the first year alone. Though costly and cumbersome, politicians and law enforcement agreed the law was worth it.

The legislation would “keep more guns out of the hands of the people who shouldn’t have them,” said then-Republican Gov. George Deukmejian.

“I think the new laws are going to help counter the violence,” said LAPD spokesman William D. Booth.

More than a quarter of a century later, researchers at Johns Hopkins and UC Davis dug into the results of the sweeping legislation. Researchers compared yearly gun suicide and homicide rates over the 10 years following implementation of California’s law with 32 control states that did not have such laws.

They found “no change in the rates of either cause of death from firearms through 2000.”

Take note that researchers were “puzzled.” It’s as if they did the study expecting it to yield tremendous results through which they could tout gun control. These American universities are not the NRA. They weren’t commissioned to prove gun control in general or universal background checks in particular are ineffective. They wanted gun control to be proven effective, and when the data didn’t support that premise, they were puzzled.

Here’s the reality: Gun control adversely affects law abiding citizens while criminals, who are wont to break such laws, are not affected. If anything, gun control measures aid in the rise of crime, as we’ve seen in Chicago and other cities with obtuse gun control measures already in place.

The 2nd Amendment defends an armed citizenry because our ability to protect ourselves from oppression is the cornerstone of what America represents. Whether against criminals or tyranny, the 2nd Amendment empowers Americans to stay safe and strong.

We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.

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