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    ‘No Checks and Balances’ on Prosecutors: Michael Cohen Imprisoned 3 Years

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    On Wednesday, US President Donald Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen was sentenced to 36 months in a federal prison. He had earlier pleaded guilty to a number of felony charges over what the judge called a “smorgasbord” of fraud.

    Daniel Lazare, a journalist and author of three books, "The Frozen Republic," "The Velvet Coup" and "America's Undeclared War," joined Radio Sputnik's Loud & Clear Wednesday to discuss Cohen's sentencing.

    ​"The system gives a great deal of latitude to prosecutors, and it also invests them with a huge political role," Lazare told hosts John Kiriakou and Brian Becker, adding that several other Trump associates have not faced any sentences.

    "So, essentially, Mueller is bearing the burden of bringing Trump down, which is his obvious mission. So, Mueller is given great discretion and great responsibility, and he's using it to zero in on his assigned target," Lazare added, referring to special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into purported Russian collusion with Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, which Moscow has repeatedly and categorically denied.

    In August, Cohen pleaded guilty to other federal charges involving his businesses, bank fraud and his campaign work for Trump. On Wednesday, District Judge William Pauley in Manhattan sentenced Cohen to three years in prison after he pleaded guilty in August to the campaign finance charges and in November to making false statements to Congress about discussions with Russian officials about a proposed Trump Tower Moscow. He also admitted tax fraud and confessed to other accusations, stating he would cooperate with the investigators. 

    The federal judge also ordered Cohen to pay a $500,000 forfeiture and additional fines. After the three-year imprisonment, the former Trump lawyer will be under supervised release for another three years.

    "My own weakness was blind loyalty to the man that caused me to choose the path of darkness," Cohen said in court Wednesday while tearing up at the podium. "Time and time again, I felt it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds," he noted, adding that he takes "full responsibility" for the nine felonies that he pleaded guilty to.
    "Prosecutorial excess is very dangerous. There are no checks and balances, no accountability. They operate in secret. I'd be very worried, if I were a Democrat in 2020, about what a Republican establishment might try to do to me," Lazare told Sputnik. 

    "Have our politics become so ugly, so hideous that we plan out prosecuting one another from administration to administration?" Lazare asked.

    "As the gridlock worsens on Capitol Hill, then the baton passes to the prosecutors to accomplish certain ends. So we have government via prosecution, and it's an increasingly vicious atmosphere in Washington and it's government by scandal, government by prosecution, and I think it's very dangerous… The level of corruption is astonishing. Prosecutors can freely choose whom to go after and whom not to." 

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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    Guilty Verdict, lawsuit, Donald Trump, Michael Cohen, United States
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