President Donald Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen has been disbarred by a panel of judges at the recommendation of a New York State Bar grievance committee, according to a decision released Tuesday.
The five judges from the state Appellate Division’s First Department, which regulates lawyers based in Manhattan, said Cohen’s disbarment was automatic after his conviction of a federal felony that mirrored a New York State crime.
Cohen was sentenced to 3 years in prison in December for making hush-money payments to two women on Trump’s behalf in violation of campaign finance laws, tax evasion, lying to a bank, and lying to Congress about a proposed Trump project in Moscow.
The court said Cohen’s admission that he lied to Congress was analogous to the state crime of offering a false instrument for official filing, and sufficient to trigger disbarment.
“The core of the offense under both statutes is the willful filing in a governmental office of a false statement knowing it to be false,” the judges said.
In his plea, Cohen said he lied to Congress about the timing of discussions of the Moscow project, which went on longer in 2016 than Trump had claimed; discussions he had with people in the Trump Organization and the Russian government about the project, and contemplated travel to further the plan.
The Appellate Division judges said that because lying to Congress was adequate to require disbarment, they did not have to consider whether Cohen’s other guilty pleas would also trigger it.
The ruling came as Cohen was about to begin a series of appearances before House and Senate committees this week to share information about his work for Trump that is widely expected to be damaging to the president.
Cohen, who publicly broke with Trump at the time of his guilty pleas, is scheduled to begin his prison term on May 6.