By Larry Neumeister and Tom Hays, AP

NEW YORK (AP) — Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s one-time fixer, was sentenced Wednesday to three years in prison for crimes that included arranging the payment of hush money to conceal his boss’ alleged sexual affairs, telling a judge that he agreed time and again to cover up Trump’s “dirty deeds” out of “blind loyalty.”

Separately, the legal and political peril surrounding Trump appeared to deepen when prosecutors announced that another major piece of the investigation had fallen into place: The parent company of the National Enquirer acknowledged dispensing some of the hush money in concert with the Trump campaign to fend off a scandal that could have damaged his bid for the White House.

Cohen, 52, shook his head slightly and closed his eyes as a judge pronounced his sentence for evading $1.4 million in taxes, lying about Trump’s business dealings in Russia and violating campaign-finance laws in buying the silence of porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy centerfold Karen McDougal, who claimed they had sex with the candidate. Cohen and federal prosecutors have said the payments were made at Trump’s direction to influence the election.

“Time and time again, I felt it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds rather than to listen to my own inner voice and my moral compass,” said a choked-up Cohen, a lawyer who once boasted he would “take a bullet” for Trump. “My weakness can be characterized as a blind loyalty to Donald Trump, and I was weak for not having the strength to question and to refuse his demands.”

The twin developments represented a double dose of bad news for the president, who ignored reporters’ questions about Cohen during an appearance at the White House later in the day.

Cohen is the first and, so far, only member of Trump’s circle during two years of investigations to go into open court and implicate him in a crime, though whether a president can be prosecuted under the Constitution is an open question.

Read the full article on the Associated Press website.

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