tv Inside Politics CNN December 12, 2018 9:00am-10:01am PST
>> welcome to inside politics. i'm john king. thank you for sharing this very busy breaking news day. breaking and unfolding as we speak, the former trump attorney michael cohen speaking moments ago inside a new york federal courtroom. cohen now accepts, quote, full responsibility for his crimes. the one he committed on his own and he and prosecutors say he committed at the direction of the president of the united states. the judge today set the sentence cohen and weighed his cooperation against his crimes. nine counts of wrongdoing. what judge william pauly calls a veritable smorgasbord of fraudulent conduct. the crimes include tax evasion, misleading congress and breaking campaign finance laws. prosecutors say cohen orchestrated those illegal hush money payments at the direction of then candidate now president donald trump. the judge today said each of cohen's crimes warrant considerable punishment. cohen said today now free from what he called the personal and
mental incars naticeration of w for donald trump. the only weakness was a blind loyalty to donald trump. outside of the federal courthouse where all of this is playing out. cohen asked for leniency. about to hear from the judge. >> the judge has started speaking. i'm just going over some notes here from the judge and basically that's what's going on. the judge is addressing the court. he's addressing michael cohen and just to give you some idea of what he's saying, he's saying that somewhere along the way, mr. cohen appears to have lost his moral compass. i think what we're expecting to see here more as this hour goes on, we may have a sense here, the judge may impose this sentence at any moment. it looks like the judge is moving through the sentence and hearing. he's reading his statement now, addressing the different crimes that michael cohen has pleaded guilty to and things are moving much faster here, certainly than we expected and know how much
jail time exactly michael cohen is going to be facing. >> is it fair to say a bit of a different approach from the southern district of new york, the federal prosecutors of new york who charged michael cohen with most of his crimes and the office of the special counsel, saying, hey, he's cooperated, we believe he's telling the truth, the southern district of new york saying, well, he's cooperated but only in degrees and think he needs federal prison time. >> reporter: right, this is one of the more kind of fascinating things that went on here at this investigation is that you have the special counsel taking one view of michael cohen and then the southern district of new york taking the complete opposite view on it because of the cooperations here vary. michael cohen said he's been cooperative was not very cooperative with the southern district of new york, but very cooperative with the special counsel and it was also very interesting when the special counsel spoke. one of the senior prosecutors from the mueller team who's been
involved in this investigation from the beginning, involved on some of the bigger aspects of this investigation. she only spoke for a few minutes to say that michael cohen has told the truth and that was it. that's very telling and that is because the special counsel, as we know in the mueller team do not want to reveal anything. they also understand that when they speak or file documents, it carries a certain weight. so there is still a lot going on here and they're going to have their time to speak but they're just not ready to speak. they have filed their documents, explaining how michael cohen has cooperated and they've not gone any further than that. the southern district of new york obviously not ultimately very happy with michael cohen. they would have liked more cooperation from him, but he was not willing, they say, to go all in and that gives up everything he knows. the other thing that's important and going on in the courtroom is the role of the president. we all wonder, how much are they going to go into about the
president of the united states? and michael cohen here really just going at it saying how he basically was covering up for the president's dirty deeds. other things about how he did this really, you know, for the president and going after that. michael cohen has taken responsibility for some of his actions here but then again, important to know how he has gone at the president in his courtroom before this judge. >> outside of the courtroom and in touch with our team inside the courtroom, come back with us as soon as we get more from the judge including the sentencing details. the point about michael cohen inside the court. cohen telling the court, referring to president trump, he's ensuring that history will not remember me as the villain of the story. clearly taking a shot at former boss, now president of the united states. to share additional reporting and analysis, cnn sara murray, former special assistant to
robert mueller. mj lee and former federal prosecutor, jennifer rogers. evan, to you first. covering the case from the beginning. michael cohen in court facing prison time. length of that prison sentence to be determined any minute. essentially saying, i have done wrong but and the but being that most of what i have done wrong was at the direction of donald trump. the businessman, then the candidate, now the president. >> look, this is what you call singing for your supper. it is clear that michael cohen knows the weight of every one of those words. history will not judge him to be the the villain. talking about the fact that the things he did to cover up for these crimes was out of loyalty to the president, talking about how he's taking responsibility for crimes including those involving the president. he's doing everything he can to twist the knife further in the back of the president because he knows that what he's doing, his performance here is what's going to help the special counsel in
their investigation and the new york investigators as well in whatever case they're pursuing. and look, john, it's clear now, something that the trump lawyers, i think, already had been on top of for a couple of months, they believe these prosecutors are out to get the president and they believe that at the end of this investigation, that the report that will come out will be damning towards the president and so they're preparing for that and i think that began emerging in this case. >> okay, the judge just sentenced michael cohen to 36 months in prison. three years of federal prison time for michael cohen. the sentencing is still going under way. >> that's not bad. >> you said that's not bad. three years in prison for michael cohen. one of the things we were discussing in the e-mail conversations before the show is michael cohen still has the option to get even that reduced by continuing to cooperate in prison but 36 months for nine charges against him. is michael cohen getting off easy? is this about right? >> i think it's about right.
we talked about this earlier and i thought he would get somewhere in the three year range. prosecutors said he deserves some downward departure from the sentencing guidelines. that was 48 months to 63 months, four to five years. so he got a year off the down end of that, so i think cohen is probably happy about that, all things considered, and as you just mentioned, under rule 35, criminal rules of procedure, he can still cooperate and knock his time down. he's got a year in which to do that and hopefully he'll now begin cooperating more fully in the southern district of new york case which is really where he's serving his time. mueller's case was on without any real consequences in sentencing. >> michael cohen is in there saying now his only weakness was loyalty to the president. he was facing six counts had nothing to do with the president. it was not just loyalty to the president. it was greed. trying to get himself very rich and very powerful and that's what sdny had a problem with. and the fact he has not fully
cooperated with them. he's come clean about some of the crimes he's committed but not willing to tell all at this point and that's something the sdny took seriously and the judge clearly took seriously and not going to let him off scot-free to serve no time and now got this three year sentence. >> more from shimone outside of the courthouse. imposing the sentence, take us through the judge's reasoning. >> reporter: well, we don't have word yet john as to what the judge's reasoning is yet, but what we can tell you is that the judge gave sentencing to three years and then on the charge of lying to congress that the special counsel here filed and that michael cohen pleaded guilty to and that's the moscow project. the judge sentenced him to two months, but the sentence is to be served concurrently. so he's not beginning to face any more than three years in jail and now what we're waiting to hear is when does he have to
report, okay, we're now getting word that the judge, john, has ordered him to surrender on march 6th. so essentially, michael cohen will be free until march 6th and be able to stay home with his family, enjoy a couple more months of freedom and then on march 6th, he'll have to report to jail where he'll begin to serve his three year sentence. >> shimone, keep getting us more information. three years, two months to serve for lying to congress and jennifer, joining us in the conversation. from your experience in the southern district of new york. essentially a rivalry between the two sets of prosecutor on the court today. opposite special counsel said he's telling the truth. southern district of new york said he's only been cooperating what he wants to cooperate, if you will. we have from now until march before michael cohen has to report to federal prison. if you worked in the southern district of new york still, do you view that as a key period of time to get additional cooperation. >> not necessarily, honestly. he's made his decision knowing
he was likely going to prison for somewhere between three and four and a half years. i don't expect him to change his mind now. i think the only switch may come when he goes to prison, honestly. if he gets in there and says, i don't think i can do this 36 months, it's probably time to call my lawyers and see if i can get another go, then probably that's when it will happen but i think the next few months, just get his affairs in order and go in there and see what happens from there. >> mj lee, you've been tracking this story for months. from a personal perspective, michael cohen had hoped that by suddenly deciding to cooperate, he was going to get no or minimal prison time. three years might not be the full extent of what he could have received but it's a long time. >> absolutely, for a man who was hoping to get no jail time, 36 months away from his family, away from the world that he operates in, obviously, it's very, very significant and it's going to be a huge gut punch for michael cohen. the argument that his lawyers had tried to make had to do with
the cooperation that he had given to investigators. there was also obviously the personal angle of not wanting to inflict more pain on cohen and his family and then just the argument that we saw unfold just this morning inside the courtroom, which was like he was essentially this victim who fell prey to president trump and his ways. the fact he was persuaded by the powerful person to do these things, including lie. those things ultimately ended up not helping him avoid the jail time obviously. this was the argument though that his legal team was trying to make, that if you take in the whole picture everything that michael cohen has done since he decided to cooperate with investigators, that should give him a good amount of leniency. i think that if you were to ask michael cohen, i'm willing to bet he doesn't see three years as getting a lot of leniency. the three years obviously down from the five years, plus some that he could have gotten and
again, i go back to the argument that sdny investigators made just last week when we saw their sentencing memo. just because you suddenly decide to plead guilty does not make you a hero. so even though from michael cohen's perspective, he may have thought, i'm doing everything right now by cooperating, by helping investigators get to the truth, and telling the truth about my former boss, that doesn't suddenly make these things go away and i know sarah was noting earlier, there were a number of counts he pleaded guilty to that actually had nothing to do with the president even though we're very focused on how the president may be potentially implicated in these things that have gotten michael cohen in trouble, there were also other aspects of this that simply just had to do with michael cohen's business life that had gotten him in trouble and it's clear from this judge's sentencing that those things are not just going to suddenly go away just because michael cohen decided toward the end he kind
of had no choice but to cooperate with investigators and start talking. >> that's an important point. two tracks. the the personpersonal crimes a special counsel office's agree. the coordination with the white house or then candidate businessman now president donald trump. you're watching the scene outside the courthouse in new york. we expect michael cohen to come out. will he speak? we don't know the answer to that question but to the point, i want to bring in shimone. the judge at one point said this of michael cohen. he thrived on his access to wealthy and powerful people and became one himself. somewhere along the way, mr. cohen appears to have lost his moral compass. help us break down. michael cohen tried to convince the judge, i was a guy who worked for donald trump and my loyalty made me do these terrible things and the southern district of new york, tough language about the finance violations which in the court filings, specifically indicated
president trump saying he directed michael cohen and the strong language of the courtroom. what is the next step which continues to be the president's long time attorney and fixer going to president, the president still remains a central focus of two investigations. the office of special counsel and still the southern district of new york? >> right. this investigation is by far not over. if you read those documents that the southern district of new york filed, they clearly talk about how the organization, the trump organization hid the ways in which this money was paid on their accounting files. they did not admit as to why they were making these payments to michael cohen. that's an issue for them. and that's something that still is being investigated. the other thing, i think it's fine to make the point as mj did that there are these other crimes that michael is charged with that have nothing to do with the president but let's remember what started this investigation. it was the mueller team. it was mueller that referred these charges to the southern
district of new york. so perhaps if donald trump never ran for office, never became president, this investigation had never begun, michael cohen may not be here today and no one may have ever looked into any of this. we can't lose sight of that because in the end, what really started this, in some ways, the special counsel's office. so that's one point. the other thing is there are still people clearly in the cross hairs in the southern district of new york. there are still people that they want to talk to and people they are still looking into and very much interested in that should concern the president, should concern people who work for the trump organization and the president's family and we know they're all concerned about it. there are still a lot of unknowns in this investigation as well as on the mueller team and the special counsel. what's going to happen there? and where that investigation goes? one of the biggest concerns, certainly ongoing for the president and his family, john, has been this southern district
of new york investigation. >> to that point, to michael's person, jennifer rogers, the lawyers understand how the prosecutors work. if you're in the southern district of new york, you're in, i don't know what the right word s but contested. i was going to say precarious legal position in the sense of what are your limits or are there limits when it comes to the conduct of a sitting president of the united states? the court documents in the campaign finance violations say specifically, they accuse the now president, then candidate of two felonies. they just lay out and straight up say he directed michael cohen to do this and so egregious that it's not, the misdemeanor violation felony campaign finance violations. the prosecutor today making a case for michael cohen described he has crimes and say they carried a tremendous societal cost and compromised the rule of law. in making nthat case, prosecutos say aren't they making the same case about the president and
where do they take it next? >> absolutely. if the president did what the southern district alleged, remember, they're allegations, not proof. the prosecutors still have to prove their theory but if it were proven that the president did this, then yes, he would have exactly the same cost that the court and southern district believe that michael cohen did but make no mistake. cohen was sentenced because of his financial crimes in large measure and that's what he's not fessed up to. he's got to make a decision of whether to now be forthcoming about what he did. he was very forthcoming in respect to the crimes of others, particularly, the president, not so as himself. so he's got three years, you gain about 47 days of good time per year. serve about 85%. so 2.5 years to figure out what he wants to do with his life, but got 120-ish days to decide whether he'll start cooperating more fully, enter into a
cooperation agreement. >> some of what he's doing is actually protecting his family. there was, before he decided to plea, he was warned that his wife and other family members were at risk because of their implications, there were implications that they were involved in some of this behavior. that's what he's got to weigh also, that he's got to protect his family members. that's one reason why. >> watch this, see michael cohen and the prosecutors, defense lawyers to come out of the courthouse in new york and the quick break but major breaking news in court. michael cohen, three years is the prison sentence. stakes for the president as well. we'll be right back.
welcome back. you're looking at the pictures of the federal courthouse in new york. the long time trump lawyer and fixer michael cohen sentenced to three years in federal prison for nine crimes total. eight charged by the southern district of new york. that's why he received the three year sentence. another crime by the special
counsel's office, a sentence of a couple of months there by congress. judge pauly ordering restitution. we're waiting to see the key players from the sentencing. michael cohen, obviously, the prosecutors and defense attorneys as well. help us set the scene there. >> reporter: yeah, so obviously, just looking over my shoulder here. you can see the court security staff, the u.s. martiashals. we're waiting for michael cohen and his attorneys to walk out of court and police also closed the street down to trap it. waiting for him to leave so he can quickly get out of it and outside of the courthouse here that we believe he's going to get into what everyone right now outside of the courthouse just waiting for michael cohen to come outside. some of the reporters and here we go. here's his family, john. this is his daughter, his son, his wife coming out first.
there you just saw his daughter come out with his wife and son. we're now waiting for michael cohen to come outside with his attorney. we don't know if they're going to speak. there is some microphones set up for them to speak if they choose to, but we don't know yet if they're going to come out and say anything but clearly, that's what everyone out here is awaiting for him to come outside. since we just saw his family, i assume he should be coming out shortly and you'll just see a lot of the security staff and the reporters, close to 100 out here waiting for him to come outside which should be at any moment now. >> one of the closest aides to businessmen donald trump, candidate donald trump. left on the outside, when he became donald trump, being sentenced to three years in
prison. again, nine federal crimes he's being sentenced for eight of them, really, little or nothing to do with donald trump but personal financial crimes. the judge saying he may have taken advantage of his reputation, working for donald trump, high profile in manhattan working for donald trump for these greedy and also, lying to congress about trump tower business dealings in moscow, trying to sell a trump tower idea in moscow during the presidential campaign. that has ramifications so we'll keep our eyes on the pictures to see if michael cohen coels out. some of the attorneys here. here he is. let's see if he speaks. there you see michael cohen getting into the black car with his wife, his son and his daughter and driving off, choosing not to speak. that in and of itself, a big development in the sense that for years, for years, michael
cohen threw punches for donald trump. no other way to put it. he tried to spin stories for donald trump, if you wrote things or said things about the businessman even before he was in politics, then the candidate, even the president in the early months of the trump administration, michael cohen would, i don't say this in a bad way, he would get in your face. he was a sharply loyal counterpuncher and sometimes puncher. julie of the associated press. here, michael cohen now facing a three year prison sentence. how does the president react and number two, does it affect, you're seeing some of the attorneys in the case coming out here as well. let's listen for one second here. >> let's go. >> all right. hearing the conversation back there. sometimes we're all laughing. that's a new york moment outside of the lawyer. trying to see if they have something to say. not always pretty looking but
reporters and photographers trying to do their job. one question, how does the president react and does this change here in washington? in washington, this has played out largely. democrats say michael cohen's testimony, michael cohen's guilty pleas and now going to federal prison is proof the president was the leader of this corrupt group of people. republicans say michael cohen committed these crimes, said these things about the president. who knows if they're true. what he has to do with this i'm not sure. >> only until his back was against the wall and he faced significant prison time did he decide to quote, come clean. he even lied to the office of the special counsel in july of this year. michael cohen is no hero. he is no patriot. his choice, time and time again, was to degrade my client, seek
to intimidate her, call her and me liars and seek to degrade the office of the presidency of the united states by seeking to buy effectively an election. this is an outrage. he deserves every day of the 36 month sentence that he will serve and i will also note with great irony, michael cohen. >> stormy daniels, one of the allegations, the guilty, now convicted of is the southern district of new york, the payments to stormy daniels and in the payments to karen mcdougal, being the adult film actress and the playboy center fold, alleges michael cohen and then candidate donald trump named individual number one in the documents with campaign finance laws. that's why he's in the courthouse here. he's someone who likes
attention. trying to have a conversation about things that actually matter, sorry, mike. here in washington in the sense that we don't know how the president is going to react to this. he cannot say this is the coffee boy, george pape d, but this wa right-hand man in all things sort of gray if you will. >> it's really difficult for the president to separate himself from michael cohen. where he's been leaning and i think likely he'll continue to lean that much of what cohen is being sentenced with here didn't have anything to do with donald trump directly. but one piece of it did and that's the campaign finance violation. that is directly related to donald trump and his campaign and as michael cohen says, an effort to basically conceal information that could have been damaging from the public. i think the reaction from republicans around that has been
really fascinating. you do have some people saying, it doesn't matter or it's not that big of a deal. i think democrats are going to try to make it a big deal. we've seen other politicians get off on similar campaign finance violations. but that one is, again, just going to be really difficult for the president to separate himself because it involves him personally and campaign directly. >> it's not a slam dunk. the president has a very good defense here, if he chooses to use it. i was trying to save my family from the embarrassment of the revelations. it had nothing to do with the campaign. you're beginning to see sloppily a little aversion of that but that's their defense and the one that could work. >> one second. bounce around a little bit because of breaking news. in the courtroom in new york as all of this played out. the prosecutor speaks. the judge speaks, take us inside the courtroom. a lot of drama today. >> reporter: john, it was so emotional inside the courtroom today. we had michael cohen speaking. coming into tears when he was
saying, it broke his heart that the shame and the pain he's brought on to his family by committing these crimes. his family members were emotional. friends and family, his daughter right behind him, his wife, son, his mother, father, in-law, cousins, they all came over after the sentencing which seemed like an absolute shock to them. you could hear some sobbing in the courtroom as he was told he was going to have 36 months, three years in prison and they came over and they all hugged him. there was a lot of, you know, intense embraces, long embraces, everyone looked very shocked and i think they were expecting him to have a much lighter sentence, if not any time at all, john. >> dramatic inside the courtroom. appreciate that insight from straight inside the emotions playing out. michael cohen facing three years in prison. he can try to reduce that by cooperating further. both on his own personal financial crimes and then the special counsel, among the office of special counsel, now
says he was lying and by extension, donald trump was lying and everyone in the trump organization was lying about how late into the campaign year 2016 were they in negotiations or at least contact with russias about the possibility of a trump tower moscow. i want to come back to this. jennifer rogers in new york. i assume they cringe when he gives media interviews. i get this. the president could say, i didn't want to embarrass my wife or my family. we decided whether these affairs happened or not. we decided to pay off these women to keep it to affect my family. it's the timing that makes it interesting because the affairs happened years ago. the payments were made in the middle of the presidential campaign. the president of the united states said this to reuters yesterday in an interview. michael cohen is a lawyer. i assumed he would know what he's doing. you rely on somebody. hey, he was a lawyer. number one, it wasn't a campaign contribution. if it were, it's only civil. and even if it's only civil, there was no violation based on
what we did. based on what we did. the president of the united states right this is saying he was part of these payments with michael cohen. the president doesn't get to decide nor do i think he has a full understanding of misdemeanor. if you were his attorney, i assume that would make you bag something. >> he's in a lot of trouble here. i mean, he's admitted, rudy giuliani has admitted it. it doesn't have to be that it's just the purpose of influencing the campaign. it can be a dual purpose that he wanted to cover it up for his wife and embarrassment and his family and it can be it was right in the heat of the last few weeks of the campaign and he needed to shut these women up and if that's one of the purposes, then he's guilty of that violation and, you know, you can point to the john edwards case all you want. that was a different set of facts and this issue as to what the purpose of the campaign contribution was is an issue of fact. it is for the jury to decide.
it is not something that can be determined before charges are brought or dismissed on motion, a legal basis in front of the judge. it's an issue of fact and if the prosecutors are able to bring the case whether or in 2021 or at some point, that's where it will be decided in the courtroom with the jury. >> we'll see how they proceed there. one of these only in washington moments about the cast of characters involved here. >> bill clinton's attorneys when they were trying impeachment back in the day. now a statement that says michael owned up to his mistakes and fully cooperated and his investigation over possible conclusion with the 2016 election. while mr. mueller gave michael significant credit for cooperation on the core issues, it is unfortunate that the sdny prosecutors did not do the same. and he goes on in the statement to saying, i look forward to
assisting michael publicly when the investigation is over, assisting michael to state publicly all he knows about mr. trump and that includes any appropriate congressional committee testimony and any committee interest in a search for the truth. a, this is not over. b, lanny davis is saying michael cohen has more. >> we do know some of these congressional committees want him to come back to capitol hill. they were lied about the trump tower piece of this but depending when he has to report to jail, be top of the list, particularly for the house intelligence committee now going to be run by democrats and potentially other committees and oversight. >> this issue of his false testimony to congress, potentially is of greater liability for the president. if it's in fact provable, that cohen, as it was set out in the sentencing memorandum spoke about his testimony and there's
evidence that the white house influenced his lying testimony, that is a much easier prosecution than the false statement, the campaign finance statements. >> i think it's not just that. we have been talking honestly about the campaign finance violations. this is where the president is most clearly implicated in this but when you look at the special counsel's interest in michael cohen, they were interested in the trump tower moscow project and how long that went on. investigating the trump business and they're interested in it to see if there was a collusion mechanism there and some reason, you know, that donald trump might have been getting some favorable treatment from russia and make him want to treat them favorably in exchange. in addition to whether he was working with the president or other people in the white house as he was, you know, creating this false testimony to congress. i think there's a lot of places where donald trump could potentially be exposed, not just on what michael cohen gave to sdny but the special counsel. >> the office of special counsel representative at the sentencing
today saying almost nothing. we believe he's told the truth and he's cooperated, not sharing anything about other investigations, quickly. >> keep in mind, at the beginning of this, the trump team was paying for his legal fees, so that is also part of the story. the trump organization faces consequences for what michael cohen said he did. >> continue the breaking news coverage and sentence to three years in federal prison. how will it impact the president and investigations here in washington. be back in a moment. ♪ there's no place like home ♪
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back to breaking news. long time trump attorney michael cohen sentenced to three years in prison. some nothing to do with presidential business candidate donald trump but one alleged, the payment to stormy daniels and karen mcdougal said made illegally in violation of campaign laws and also say at the direction of then republican donald trump. inside the courtroom. you were talking about the emotion of cohen's family earlier when they heard the sentence but in delivering the sentence, the judge wanted to send a message, right? >> reporter: that's right, john. he really emphasized more than once that the importance of this case and this especially given the high publicity value of it
was the need for deterrence. he said that, you know, there is an acute need for a sentence to reflect the seriousness of the offenses here and to respect the law. so the judge was sending a strong message. he said, in fact, earlier before he delivered the sentence that because of the crimes in this case and because of the public nature of the the importance to the democracy that the sentence in this case needed to be amplified so people would know they should tell the truth. so the judge was pretty firm on that and he also acknowledged that, you know, a lot of the crimes that cohen committed defrauded the u.s. by not paying his taxes and not just isolated to the campaign finance crimes that we talked so much about and even thought that what's considered under this sentencing guidelines of what covers lying to congress, he didn't think those were tough enough because it's sufficient a serious offense so the judge was sending a strong message today that the american public cannot be deceived and especially a lawyer
like michael cohen that it was unacceptable. he set the sentence more than most people in the courtroom expected. 36 months, three years, and michael cohen will report on march 6th to prison. so he has some time now to consider all these offenses, but it was very interesting, here, michael cohen saying today was his day of freedom because finally under the thumb of trump and the trump organization and that was a quite emotional moment as well in the courtroom, john. >> in the courtroom, i want to go back to mj lee who has been doing great reporting on michael cohen in recent months. you hear, mj, they're saying michael cohen feeling free, out from under the thumb of donald trump, however, as we've been discussing, there are congressional committees that want to talk to him and possibly the southern district of new york to come back for more information and likelihood, the office of special counsel will continue to talk to michael cohen. what else do we know?
where could this be heading, if you will? >> reporter: look, john, even though this day soeis over and saw that, the michael cohen story is far from over and i think it could be just beginning. he has made it very clear that he intends to continue cooperating with investigators and last week, we sort of found out the broad strokes of how michael cohen has been cooperating including sharing with special counsel robert mueller's office and conversations he had with people close to the white house and conversations that he had with people at the trump organization and just think ahead to the few months that michael cohen has ahead of him, right? he's now going home where he's going to wait for a little less than three months to report to prison on march 6th. that is a lot of time for michael cohen to be sitting at home sort of stewing over what's to come and what's come to him, right? it is clear from both today and our reporting over the months
that michael cohen has come to the conclusion that donald trump was the mastermind in all of this. he was the puppeteer and michael cohen was simply the puppet and now he's going to go home anticipating the three year sentence while he clearly feels like this was actually more donald trump's fault even though michael cohen acknowledges he had responsibility and he had played a role in all of this, he feels like he's in h position because of his former boss. so if he's cooperating with this sort of mindset, just imagine the things that he might be more open and willing to say to investigators. the other thing that i think is worth thinking about is the fact that michael cohen has been relatively quiet ever since we found out about his legal troubles and that fbi raid back in april because of the constraints of the ongoing investigations. he didn't want to put himself in more legal jeopardy. now that this sentencing has happened, he sort of has nothing more to lose or he might see
things that way. you might see a michael cohen more unleashed and may even see him feel more free to do media and do more interviews with reporters. something he really has not been doing as these things have been working its way through the court system and the response that that might encourage from the president himself and looks up on the tv and potentially sees michael cohen talking about all of this, that might have the effect of making donald trump even more angry than he already is, so all of these things culminating together into what could be an even more dramatic couple of months as michael cohen, as he awaits his jail sentence and report to prison on march 6th, continues to cooperate and is willing to continue talking to investigators. john? >> for two of those months, mj, before he goes to prison, the democrats will be in control of the house so may see mr. cohen
back to breaking news. reaction coming in. michael cohen. three years in federal prison for nine crimes. eight of which are financial crimes involving businesses he had in new york. tax evasion and the like. one of the crimes, lying to congress about candidate trump's ties with russia during the 2016 campaign. one of the other crimes alleged in new york, campaign finance
violations. again, michael cohen said he was directed by then candidate republican nominee donald trump to break the law in paying off stormy daniels and karen mcdougal for their silence. sophisticated, as trump's was too. that's to the campaign finance allegation. the other thing we know that michael cohen has alleged, back to the trump tower moscow projects. there were deeper ties, earlier ties with russians back in 2015 and throughout the campaign, the president of the united states, remember, as a candidate and just after the election said, no, never, none. there were no contacts with russia. the president changed the story in an interview with reuters said, said the stuff you're talking about is peanuts stuff. the president going from no, never, none, by him or any of his people, now acknowledging his people but peanut stuff, why is that significant? >> because they're admitting, essentially, the core allegation that mueller is investigating.
if this stuff happened, they say, yes, it was perhaps improper but it was small. he just, that's not how the way the haw wolaw works. it's improper. they suffer the consequences of their own facility with twitter. i don't understand why they keep talking. the other thing that they have to understand is the trump organization paid back cohen, executives paid cohen through his securest means. those guys are subject to indictment. they're not immune, like the president is. >> the trump organization, we already know the cfo, we also know that donald trump jr. is an officer in the organization. ivanka trump was an officer in that organization. therefore, this is why the president is mad and thinks this is becoming not only about him but his family and his business. >> the trump organization is so central to trump's own identity, as much as being president, now and in part because he puts so
much stock in his reputation as a good businessman but because of his children and con flagsco of family and business. >> yes, trump loves being president but he loves he created this sort of trump enterprise. >> a striking chapter today that michael cohen said i'd take a bullet for mr. trump. >> now stabbing him in the back. >> i did it all because of mr. trump. >> it's absolutely, this is so important, the idea that during the time that trump is saying there were no contacts with the russians. not only contacts but the russians were busy interfering with the u.s. election which is the central allegation which the president is yet to acknowledge. he doesn't really want to admit to that, and so that's the thing that's going to keep coming back and we'll see more of it in the investigation. >> the question is how is mueller putting the pieces
>> i'm brianna keilar live from cnn's washington headquarters. we have breaking news. president trump's former attorney, friend and fixer michael cohen will spend the next three years in prison even after he flipped on president and cooperated with special counsel robert mueller. the sentencing happened off camera but reporters were inside taking down every word that was said and essentially cohen and his attorney through his president of the united states under the bus. cohen saying at one point, recently, the president tweeted a statement calling the week and it was correct, for a much different reason than he was implying, because