Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, has been sentenced to three years in prison after being found guilty of campaign finance violations, tax evasion and lying to Congress.
The man, often described as Mr Trump’s “fixer” is the first member of the President’s inner circle to be jailed over special counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Mr Cohen, 52, lashed out at Mr Trump in a New York court as he faced sentencing Thursday morning (Australian time), saying his former employer caused him to “follow a path of darkness rather than light”.
He said his “weakness was a blind loyalty to Donald Trump” and that he “felt it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds”.
The sentence related to two separate cases brought by the Southern District of New York and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
Mr Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations for his role in paying hush money to women who alleged affairs with Mr Trump.
He will serve that term concurrently with a two-month sentence he received for lying to Congress about a possible Trump Tower project in Moscow, a charge levelled by Special Counsel Mueller.
Judge William Pauley gave Cohen until March 6 to report to Otisville federal prison in upstate New York to begin his sentence.
As well as jail time, Cohen was also ordered to forfeit US$500,000 ($692,000) and pay US$1.39 million ($1.92 million) in restitution.
Cohen refused to speak to reporters as he left the court, but his lawyer, Lanny Davis, released a statement saying his client “continues to tell the truth about Donald Trump’s misconduct over the years”.
“At the appropriate time, after Mr Mueller completes his investigation and issues his final report, I look forward to assisting Michael to state publicly all he knows about Mr Trump,” Mr Davis said.
“Michael has owned up to his mistakes and fully cooperated with Special Counsel Mueller in his investigation over possible Trump campaign collusion with Russian meddling in the 2016 election,” he said.
Mr Trump has sought to distance himself from Cohen despite their long relationship.
Cohen, who once said he would “take a bullet” for the President, has maintained he was acting on Mr Trump’s orders when he broke the law.
He testified in August that Mr Trump had directed him to commit a crime by arranging payments to silence two women before the 2016 election who said they had affairs with Mr Trump.
The president has denied the affairs.