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COMING UP:Share Opener Variant 1



>> Michael Cohen, the president's former personal attorney, was sentenced to three years in prison Wednesday for tax evasion, bank fraud, campaign finance violations, and lying to Congress. In a statement before the court in downtown Manhattan, Cohen took a swing at his former boss, who last month called Cohen,
>> He's a weak person.>> Cohen agreed with that, quote, it was my own weakness and a blind loyalty to this man that led me to choose a path of darkness over light. I felt it was my duty to cover up his own dirty deeds. The judge echoed this, saying that Cohen, quote, appears to have lost his moral compass.
The sentencing capped the stunning about face of a lawyer who once said he would take a bullet for Trump. But has now directly implicated the president in criminal conduct. Cohen told prosecutors that payments to silence Trump's alleged mistresses Story Daniels and Karen McDougal during the campaign were directed by Trump.
But the president told Reuters Tuesday that the payments were not campaign contributions and shouldn't be considered a crime. Quote, if it were, it's only civil, and if it's only civil, there is no violation based on what we did. Yet, Cohen will serve 36 months for that and other violations plus two months for lying to congress.
Reuters' Brendan Pierson was at the courthouse.>> I think the most significant thing that came out for Trump today is that Cohen's lawyer. Said during the preceding that Cohen plans to continue cooperating with prosecutors. So we don't know exactly what that means, but given that he served as Trump's personal lawyer for all those years.
And has already proven himself willing to say things that implicate Trump. The fact that he has still pledged to continue cooperating with authorities could be a bad sign for the president.>> Cohen who worked at the Trump organization for roughly a decade has already cooperated with the Special Counsel investigating allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Providing Robert Mueller with information about the Trump organization's Moscow project, contacts with Russian interests, and other areas central to the probe. His defense team Wednesday told the judge that Cohen was concerned the president would shut down the investigation. As part of his sentence, the judge ordered Cohen to forfeit half a million dollars and pay restitution of nearly 1.4 million for the campaign finance law violations.
He's to voluntarily surrender on March 6th.