Cohen was emotional during the sentencing, making a formal apology to U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III. Cohen took responsibility for crimes that included tax violations, lying to a bank, and buying the silence during the 2016 campaign of women who claimed they’d once had affairs with the future president.
The sentencing of embattled lawyer could have political consequences that could reach far beyond Cohen, as authorities have alleged Trump directed him in violating campaign finance laws. In front of the judge, Cohen laid the blame at Trump's feet.
“My weakness could be characterized as a blind loyalty to Donald Trump,” Cohen told the courtroom.
Visibly distraught, Cohen said the president had been correct to call him “weak” recently on Twitter, “but for a much different reason than he was implying.”
“It was my own weakness and a blind loyalty to this man that led me to choose a path of darkness over light,” Cohen told the judge. “Time and time again I felt it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds.”
Prosecutors had asked Pauley to give Cohen some consideration for the information that he has provided but argued that Cohen nonetheless still deserved a "substantial prison term."
Pauley appeared to agree, saying Cohen had admitted "a veritable smorgasbord of fraudulent conduct. Each crime involved deception, and each crime appears to have been motivated by personal greed and ambition."
The judge also added that Mr. Cohen’s crimes — breaking campaign finance laws, tax evasion and lying to Congress — “implicated a far more insidious harm to our democratic institutions.”
Pauley also pointed to Cohen's upbringing, claiming that his childhood and parents taught him better.
"But somewhere along the way, Mr. Cohen appeared to lose his moral compass," Pauley said. "As a lawyer, Mr. Cohen should have known better."
The trouble for Cohen began when news broke that Cohen had arranged a $130,000 hush money payment to Stormy Daniels during the campaign. A following FBI raid of Cohen’s residence and office in April made clear he was in very imminent and very serious legal jeopardy.
Cohen tried to remain loyal to the president, but their relationship fell apart when he started considering a plea deal.
Following the sentencing, Michael Avenatti issued a warning to Trump on Twitter.
Trump has yet to respond to Avenatti or Cohen's sentencing.