Michael Cohen has completed his transition from presidential fixer to prison inmate.
Cohen, the former personal attorney to President Donald Trump, executive vice president of the Trump Organization and national deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee, reported Monday to a federal prison in Otisville, New York, where he will begin serving a three-year sentence.
“I hope that 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,” Cohen told a throng of reporters gathered outside his apartment in Manhattan on Monday morning, before ducking into a black Escalade SUV.
“There still remains much to be told,” he added. “And I look forward to the day that I can share the truth.”
Although Otisville has been named one of “America’s 10 cushiest prisons,” his stay there is likely to be an abrupt downgrade in lifestyle for an attorney accustomed to regular power breakfasts at the Upper East Side’s Loews Regency hotel, with its $26 egg white frittatas.
But Cohen has had some time to prepare.
He was initially set to begin his sentence March 6, but his attorneys argued successfully for his prison date to be pushed back by two months. Cohen has used those months — and the ones since he pleaded guilty in August 2018 to tax evasion, false statements to a bank and campaign finance violations tied to hush money payments he made or orchestrated on behalf of Trump — to turn on his former boss.
After admitting in federal court in Manhattan that “in coordination and at the direction of” Trump — thinly disguised as “Individual-1” in court documents — Cohen made or directed payments to silence women who claimed affairs with then-presidential candidate, Cohen pleaded guilty to an additional charge. This time, he admitted to having made false statements to Congress, lying about the duration of talks concerning a prospective Trump Tower in Moscow “out of loyalty” to Trump.
During those late 2018 months, he met multiple times with federal prosecutors from both the Manhattan US Attorney’s office and the office of special counsel Robert Mueller, as well as investigators from the New York attorney general’s office and others.
That December, Trump railed against his former attorney on Twitter, calling him a “rat,” and by early the following year, Cohen took his campaign against Trump to Capitol Hill.
Cohen testified publicly before the House Oversight Committee in February, armed with evidence appearing to implicate the President: copies of checks signed by Trump and his son Donald Trump Jr. that Cohen said were used to reimburse him for some of the hush money.
He testified privately in three closed-door sessions with the Senate and House Intelligence Committees. And he appealed to Democrats on those committees to help him again postpone his prison date, telling them in April through his attorneys that he had more potential evidence to offer.
But he didn’t get a second delay. Cohen and his allies in recent days have argued he is somewhat of a scapegoat, saying he has taken the fall for the President and others over the payments to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal, while never mentioning the five counts of tax evasion to which he pleaded.
“Cohen is still only Trump Co person going to jail. NOT Don Jr – who signed hush money checks. Why?” Cohen adviser Lanny Davis said on Twitter on Friday.
But while Cohen himself said at his sentencing that he felt it was his duty to cover up Trump’s “dirty deeds,” he also took responsibility for the crimes.
“I want to be clear,” he told the court. “I blame myself for the conduct which has brought me here today, and it was my own weakness, and a blind loyalty to this man that led me to choose a path of darkness over light.”
By Erica Orden, CNN