Michael Cohen, a simple man who was plainly not cut out for the life of medium-sized crime to which he aspired, was sentenced to three years in prison on Wednesday for, in no particular order, perjuring himself before the Senate Intelligence Committee; committing bank and wire fraud; and, along with the current President of the United states, making illegal hush-money payments in order to conceal the then-candidate's various extramarital affairs from would-be voters. It was announced nearly three years to the day after Cohen did this, a first-ballot addition to the Tweets That Did Not Age Well Hall of Fame.
"I take full responsibility for each act that I pleaded guilty to," he said in prepared remarks. Cohen acknowledged that the primary "weakness" that has plagued him throughout his career is his "blind loyalty to Donald Trump," and appeared resigned to his fate, telling judge William H. Pauley III that the sooner he could begin serving time for his "dirty deeds," the sooner he could be reunited with his family. From the gallery, Michael Avenatti looked on impassively, because in 2018, wherever three or more cameras gather in the immediate vicinity of a courtroom, Michael Avenatti can be found among them.
God wiling, these proceedings signal the end of one of the strangest footnotes in American political history, which is undoubtedly the subject of no less than eight prestige podcasts that are already racing one another through post-production: a personal injury attorney and part-time taxicab fleet operator who ingratiated himself with a wealthy TV personality by, no joke, convincing family members to buy enough Trump properties to get him noticed. After that, he began cultivating a reputation about New York City as Trump's personal fixer, an ankle-holstered-pistol-toting tough guy cribbed from the second act of a straight-to-Netflix Goodfellas rip-off.
This arrangement suited him well for a full decade, a period in which he managed to accumulate a miniature Manhattan luxury real estate empire—and attendant small fortune—of his own. In a cruel twist of fate, he was undone by the political ascendance of his benefactor that he had helped to orchestrate, which drew the type of law enforcement scrutiny that Cohen's bumblings could not withstand. In court, his lawyer characterized him as a man who "does not engage in sharp business practices," which is roughly the equivalent of stating that a robber employs unconventional methods of making his withdrawals from the bank.
The most notable exchange at Wednesday's hearing concerned the relevance, if any, of Cohen's involvement with Robert Mueller's investigation. Cohen's attorneys contended that their client had been generous and forthcoming with information, while prosecutors for the Southern District of New York noted that his refusal to sign a formal cooperation agreement—and the seemingly-selective nature of his cooperation—caused him to forfeit any right to leniency.
Since the three-year term is considerably shorter than the nonbinding 51-to-63-month range that Pauley derived from federal sentencing guidelines, it seems that Cohen might have gotten the better of this argument. But as usual, the only people who really know aren't telling. "There's only so much we can say about the particulars at this time, given our ongoing investigation," said Jeannie S. Rhee, who represented the special counsel's office. And regardless of how that investigation plays out, occasional Cohen confidant Lanny Davis suggested that his pal will have plenty more to share after its conclusion.
Cohen was ordered to surrender on March 6, and Judge Pauley recommended that he serve out his sentence at a medium-security federal correctional facility in Otisville, New York. Should the president have a change of heart, and take it upon himself to make amends with his former attorney—say, if he finds himself with an urgent need to get some very important details straight anytime soon—he will be relieved to learn that Trump Tower is only a two-hour drive away.