Cohen sentenced to 36 months in federal prison

President Trump's personal attorney will see jail time after lying to Congress.
10:12 | 12/12/18

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Transcript for Cohen sentenced to 36 months in federal prison
This is an ABC news special. George Stephanopoulos. Good day we're coming on the air right now with the sentencing of Michael coney as the president's former lawyer fixer. Who pleading guilty to charges of tax evasion campaign finance violations that he said. He committed at the direction of the presents him walking in the courtroom there this morning he is just received his sentence from federal judge William Pauley. 36 months three years. In prison for the various charges tax evasion tax fraud. And campaign finance violations when industry to our Chief Justice correspondent Pierre Thomas who's outside the courthouse Pierre. Georgia was a dramatic hearing the judges basically said that Cohen had committed serious crimes that he had. Visit A officer of the court he should have known better that while he cooperated that the crimes that he committed at the direction of the president and the tax. Violations and the campaign finance violations were serious crimes short visit with a dramatic morning. Cohen arrived at Cortes who said with his wife and two children in court he spoke to the judge he made an impassioned plea. To get leniency he talked about the fact that he wanted to cooperate and try to do the right thing but. Make no mistake the president of the United States put front and center in this proceeding today he talked about. Being in the mental incarceration. From the moment that he met the president of the United States and that he acknowledged again that he did these acts at the direction. The president of the United States he also talked about the fact of the president. Has been tweeting talking about his situation calling him correct and that he's the most powerful man in the world begin George the judge. Was having none of it he believes that coalition do prison time three years in prison. That's true here on the other hand this in this 36 month sentence is below the sentencing guidelines sued to he was taking into account. The cooperation the Michael Cohen games. Absolutely the special counsel. Team was here today they spoke on. Behalf. Michael Cohen today they say that he offered significant. Cooperation but George its interest in having covered a lot of these white collar crimes and these type of things. They did judges do sometimes give some leeway into the leniency. To the defenders because of the nature of the crimes but here. The judge clearly thought that the judge and that Cohen had lived a life. Privileged middle class life and it quote he should've known better. They said it was a smorgasbord of crimes and his corporation does not wipe the slate clean arena chief legal analyst Dan Abrams for more on this and dinners really. A tale of two very different sets of prosecutors going before that judge today you heard. From the special counsels Robert Muller's counselor gene you read that Colin provided valuable information you heard from the southern district of New York. He didn't come close anywhere close to assisting this office in an investigation. Yeah and look I think this 36 month sentence is a win for Michael Coen in particular because of what you just said and the southern district in New York is coming Ford and saying. Not only is the sentencing rage 51 to 63 months. But we think he's was still lying to us. He still wasn't cooperating with us he still making claims in his documents that we think are true Muller's team saying we think he told us the truth exactly and so it seems -- -- you're at it when the Probation Department had recommended 42 months which was a downward departure from the 51 to 63 the fact he's now getting 36 months. I think it's a win keep in mind in the federal system that means that he would have to serve at least 85%. Of that time even with good behavior. I was struck by something else the genie read the special counsel Muller's attorney said she city providing credible and buy information regarding this is a quota quote I had not seen before from the special counsel. Any links between a campaign and a foreign government that shows this whole notion of the special counsel looking conclusion very very much alive. Absolutely you know I re read through as I as I saw that all of the original documents here that they filed. And in none of them did they make that kind of statement as the special counsel made that he provided credible and valuable information. And abet any. Any links between a campaign and a foreign government but if he's providing information that's been useful. You would presume that means there were likes and then go so this is us reading between the lines here but it's important and it's significant and it was a comment made not by the southern district of New York. But by the prosecutor represented. As we have a lot more work to do as well want to bring in Lanny Davis whose work that might call work is an attorney for Michael Conn your reaction Lanny. Corporate stewardship chapter one on July 2 began with your story where Michael Collins turned. And decided to tell the truth about Donald Trump and own up and take responsibility. For his mistakes in representing trump to the years. We're about begin chapter 22 days until last chapter. Chapter two is Michael Cohen are now serving as an advisor are no longer need to be an attorney at the sentencing old church chapter two is Michael Cohen following what mr. Mueller said looking at the big picture as opposed to the southern district which is just focused on. The crimes that they were investigating. Will be telling the truth not just to mr. Moeller and all that history. Seventy hours in seven sessions he will someday be appearing as a Dunn dean to. Generation. Before a congressional committee and we'll tell all of the truth about what he knows about Donald Trump. That's two days new chapter and if you build new headline. That Michael Cohen is now released. To tell the pool cue after mr. Mueller. Make this binding in issues his report you'll see more. Michael Cohen telling the truth about two Donald Trump. He gave his thanks very much we should add to the judge. Also sends Kona to 22 months for lying to congress that was the charge including pleading guilty to in connection with the Muller investigation but that's to be served concurrently. But this 36 months and it's which will begin by march 6 and odious bill. New York want to bring in Cecilia Vega as well at the White House Michael Cohen in his statement to the judge hitting directly. And at president trump saying his only weakness was blind loyalty to the press. And start George by just how much part of this proceeding today president truck actually was even though clearly he was not there and I will start by saying that we have not heard anything from president Trout we are all monitoring his Twitter account very closely because I imagine. Just a matter of minutes before we do hear from him in recent days weeks and months the president has really tried to distance himself. From Michael Cohen and I have said this before and I will say it again it is impossible to overstate. The closeness of their relationship here we are talking about. A man who was dean right hand man to president trump his longtime fixture his personal attorney someone who was in the innermost. Inner circle inside trump tower for Donald Trump and to hear Michael Cohen. Slammed president trump to hear him and I talk about it hit him to point fingers directly act and today's Brinkley. Just astounding. You mentioned Michael Cohen talking about president trump. As saying the greeting essentially that he is only and he says that his weakness was caused. By blind loyalty. To Donald Trump in just. A matter of days ago president trump had said that he called for a full and complete sentence of Michael Cohen and really was just overnight in this new interview with Reuters. Did he distanced himself even from these charges you'll remember George his story has really changed the president story has changed significantly in very dramatically. In months initially he said he didn't know anything about these hush payments to stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal. He said he found out about them after they were made at any tells Reuters just overnight that this wasn't a campaign contribution. If it were it was only civil he says essentially that these d.s sentencing report that was released on Friday cleared him. Of all culpability. That is not true so far in and and we heard in court today that he is very much still a part. Of these allegations in fact the prosecutors today said it is campaign finance violations or series because of the societal cost short. So striking the president then laying in his legal defense in tweets wanna go back appear Thomas or outside. The courthouse pier that quorum thick with a motion. Cohen wept at least twice during these proceedings. Clearly overcome with emotions. He was. Pretty silent somber as a judge read the citizen what we are being told by our colleagues inside the quarter. And George I guess the other thing to remember here is of all the people so far who've been charged in connection with the special counsel investigation or any of these federal cases. He's getting the longest service and from someone who's covered many of these cases before. There's always sobering when you see a judge imposed as soon as and you know that this person is going to sit in imprisoned. Four months in in this case years. This is patriot and it's also clear Dan Abrams. I don't know whether it's months or years but these investigations are nowhere near over. Well that's right and we were talking about the possibility that this investigation would wrap up by the end of this year. That's clearly not gonna happen. We already know. That part of the metaphor case has been pushed into next year there are other aspects of the case that have been pushed in the next year again when you hear the kind of language. If they continue to use and remember there's so much that spin we're dafted. In the documents we forty seen big black marks across it why because there's more to come that they don't want to disclose yet but they're continuing to investigate. Okay Dan it was thanks very much once again. Michael Cohen cents to 36 months in prison for tax invasion tax fraud. And campaign violations campaign finance violations it he says we're directly ordered by president trump. That's and is just handed down a federal courthouse in New York we're gonna go off the air. Right now market our coverage will continue our online of course a full report tonight on world news and I would David Muir have good afternoon. This has been a special. From ABC.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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