'It's not the crime, it's the cover up': Legal analyst explains why Trump associates are in trouble
Michael Cohen (Photo: Screen capture)

President Donald Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen asked a federal judge that he not serve prison time Friday, despite pleading guilty to multiple crimes linked to wrongdoing by his former boss.

Cohen pointed to his cooperation with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation as a justification for sparing federal prison time.

"In the context of this raw, full-bore attack by the most powerful person in the United States, Michael, formerly a confidante and adviser to Mr. Trump, resolved to cooperate, and voluntarily took the first steps toward doing so even before he was charged," his attorneys wrote in a sentencing document.

On CNN Monday, legal analyst Paul Callan explained why Cohen's past false testimony might do him, and other Trump associates, in.

"They have enormous power when witnesses lie in investigations," Callan said. "You know, if you look at white collar crime in general, the Trump administration is now experiencing something that lawyers have known for a long time. It's not the crime. It's the cover up that does people in."

"People start to tell lies ... and often it's difficult to prove the underlying crime, but it's easy to prove the lie."