13 Dec 2018

Donald Trump ex-lawyer Michael Cohen sentenced to 3 years prison

6:32 am on 13 December 2018

Michael Cohen, the former lawyer for US President Donald Trump, has been sentenced to three years jail.

Michael Cohen arrives at federal court for his sentencing hearing, December 12, 2018 in New York City.

Michael Cohen arrives at federal court for his sentencing hearing. Photo: AFP / Getty Images / Eduardo Munoz Alvarez

He was jailed for his role in the payment of hush money to women who said they had affairs with Mr Trump, and for lying to Congress about a proposed Trump Tower project in Russia discussed during the 2016 election campaign.

Cohen, 52, walked into federal court in downtown Manhattan with his wife, son and daughter, amid a crowd of photographers and reporters, for sentencing, before US District Judge William Pauley.

The judge sentenced Cohen to 36 months for the payments, which violated campaign finance law, and to two months for the false statements to Congress. The two terms will run simultaneously.

Cohen had pleaded guilty in August to charges by federal prosecutors in New York that, just before the election, he paid adult film actress Stormy Daniels $US130,000 and helped arrange a $US150,000 payment to former Playboy model Karen McDougal so the women would keep quiet about their past relationships with Trump, who is married.

Mr Trump denies having the affairs or being involved in the payments.

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 $US2700.

Cohen faced sentencing on a separate charge of lying to Congress brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russia's role in the 2016 election and possible coordination between Trump's campaign and Moscow. Cohen pleaded guilty to that charge last month.

"He came forward to offer evidence against the most powerful person in the country," one of Cohen's lawyers, Guy Petrillo, told the court on Wednesday, arguing for leniency. Cohen cooperated knowing "the president might shut down" Mueller's investigation, Mr Petrillo said.

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. Russia has denied U.S. allegations of interfering in the election to help Trump.

- Reuters