Lawyers for Michael Cohen, the former personal lawyer for President Donald Trump, are asking a federal judge for leniency and to not sentence him to prison, citing their client’s cooperation with the government.
The request came in the form of a memorandum filed late Friday, one day after Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow during the 2016 presidential election.
Cohen’s lawyers said he could have “fought the government and continued to hold to the party line, positioning himself perhaps for a pardon.” the Wall Street Journal reported.
“In the circumstances of this case, at this time, in this climate, Michael’s decision to cooperate required and requires singular determination and personal conviction,” the lawyers wrote.
In August, Cohen, 52, pleaded guilty in federal court in New York City to five counts of tax fraud, one count of making false statements to a bank and two campaign-finance violations related to payments made to two women who said they had affairs with Trump.
He told the court that Trump ordered him to make the payments, an allegation Trump denies. Cohen is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 12 on the charges from the August plea deal.
According to the memo, Cohen violated campaign-finance laws out of a “fierce loyalty” to the president and “regrets that his vigor in promoting [the president’s] interests in the heat of political battle led him to abandon good judgment and cross legal lines.”
In their request, the lawyers included dozens of letters of support from Cohen’s friends and family, while noting the unwanted media attention foisted upon them.
Since his plea agreement, Cohen has assisted federal prosecutors, including Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office, and the New York attorney general’s office in its investigation into the Donald Trump Foundation.
Cohen faces between 46 and 63 months in prison, along with financial penalties. The judge can set aside those guidelines.
Prosecutors said they would relay the extent of Cohen's cooperation to the judge, as long as he keeps providing them with truthful information.