Michael Cohen pleads guilty to lying to Congress

Jan. 16, 2019

By Andrew Palma
Staff Writer

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, pleaded guilty on Nov. 29 to charges of campaign financial violations and lying to Congress. On Dec. 12, he was sentenced to three years in prison.

During the 2016 presidential election, the Trump Organization pledged to give a $50 million penthouse in the proposed Trump Tower Moscow to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Two United States law enforcement agencies have said Cohen, who led the negotiations, discussed the idea with Putin’s representative and regularly briefed Trump and his family on the Moscow negotiations, according to MarketWatch, a financial news website.

During the 2016 election, Cohen was also involved in buying the silence of adult film star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal, who have had sexual relationships with Trump, in an effort to improve Trump’s chances of winning the election.

In January 2016, it was announced that the project would be completely discontinued, according to USA Today. From January to June 2016, Cohen had been working to complete the Moscow deal by trying to secretly forge financial links between him and Russian representatives.

In court, Cohen initially said he had taken it upon himself to do what was in Trump’s best interest, but he later said Trump had appointed him to handle these transactions.

History teacher Mr. Marcus said his opinion of Trump has not changed as a result of Cohen’s trial.

“It wasn’t positive in the first place. This situation solidifies it because there were actions that prove he cannot be trustworthy,” Marcus said.

He said actions speak louder than words when it comes to forming a judgment on a politician.

“At this point, there [are] no meaningful statements he says. We can’t trust him because the people he surrounds himself [with], the people he himself employs, have been punished for actions like these,” Marcus said. “However, that does not mean our democracy cannot resolve any issue created by [a] select few.”

In contrast, history teacher Mr. Clifford said his opinion of Trump has changed in light of Cohen’s trial.

“It was someone who worked very close to the president, and for Cohen to be committing a crime, it makes you question Trump’s integrity because, like the old saying, ‘Whoever you associate yourself with represents who you are,’” Clifford said.

Clifford said Cohen initially lied in order to protect Trump.

“He knew who he was lying for. His loyalty to Trump had to have been a big factor,” Clifford said. “He even came out to say he would take a bullet for Trump.”

Clifford also said Cohen consciously lied in order to make money.

“His paycheck could possibly be in jeopardy because he gets paid big money to represent Trump,” Clifford said.

He said Cohen deserves the prison sentence he received.

“It’s sending a good message to the public that the law system is doing all it can to bring justice,” Clifford said. “Regardless of who you are, no one is allowed to break the law.”

Sophomore Isabella Rivera, who is enrolled in Advanced Placement Government & Politics, said Trump and Cohen both showed poor judgment.

“Trump should not have had to cover himself and pay someone, and Cohen shouldn’t have taken the money to cover Trump just because he wants to remain loyal to him,” Rivera said. “They both knew it was wrong, yet still did it.”

Rivera said she believes Trump went too far, however, when he called Cohen a “rat” for the statements he made before Congress.

“Rat is not an appropriate term to use. It is rude, and Trump is just taking out his anger. [Trump] is mad that people are finding out about something sketchy involving him,” Rivera said. “It’s partly his fault, so him using nasty words is making him look worse.”

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