Trump knew hush money payments were wrong, says disgraced lawyer

18 December, 2018, 10:10 | Author: Clarence Schmidt
  • Michael Cohen walks out of federal court in New York

On Friday, ABC News ran an interview with President Donald Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen, who was just sentenced to 3 years in prison and ordered to pay nearly $2 million in fines and payments for crimes allegedly implicating Trump. Prosecutors, meanwhile, say the president directed and coordinated the payment, potentially opening him up to criminal liability.

According to former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, the United States president directed him to make the hush-money payments because at the time Trump "was very concerned about how this would affect the election".

The accusations against Trump, legal analysts say, could amount to a felony because they revolve around an alleged conspiracy to hide payments from campaign contribution reports and from voters.

Federal law requires contributions of "anything of value" to a campaign be disclosed, and an individual donation can not exceed $2,700. "He doesn't understand the system", Cohen said in the interview, which aired Friday on "Good Morning America".

Cohen, a former member of Trump's inner circle who in the past called himself the president's "fixer", was sentenced on Wednesday in federal court in NY to three years in prison for campaign finance law violations related to the payments and other crimes to which he pleaded guilty. And he pleaded guilty to a campaign finance violation related to this payment.

Trump has also denied any collusion with Moscow during the 2016 campaign and called the investigation led by the Office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller "a witch hunt".

Cohen said his testimony was not the only evidence that prosecutors had of Trump's involvement in the payments.

Prosecutors will likely make a pitch to the judge Wednesday about the sentence they believe is appropriate, and it is possible - albeit unlikely - they might reveal new details about how Cohen's cooperation has helped advance their ongoing probes. Mueller had attested to Cohen, to tell the truth. Trump denies those claims. Cohen is confident the truth will prevail. Only if Trump is truly taken down by the law - as of yet an unlikely eventuality - could Cohen hope to become the unifying hero he aspires to be.

In his ABC interview, Cohen rejected those accusations, saying they're "absolutely not true". Asked if Trump likewise knew it was "wrong", Cohen said, "Of course". Prosecutors say Cohen did so at the direction of then candidate Trump, and that the violations were felonies.

"Very simply, Michael Cohen is lying, and he is trying to get a reduced sentence for things that have nothing to do with me", the president said. "There's a substantial amount of information that they possessed that corroborates the fact that I am telling the truth", he said.

Donald Trump and Michael Cohen.

"It was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds", Cohen said before US District Judge William H. Pauley III, reported BBC. He reportedly directed Cohen to pay the almost $400,000 to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal for them to keep quiet about supposed affairs.

Speaking to ABC's George Stephanopoulos, Cohen appeared shaken over the series of events that swiftly took him from being Mr Trump's "fixer" to a man facing three years in prison.

NY prosecutors say then-candidate Trump was involved in making a $150,000 payment to McDougal through American Media Inc.

Cohen said the McDougal agreement was between Trump and David Pecker, the CEO of American Media Inc., publisher of the National Enquirer and a longtime friend of the president.

Finally, when asked if he had any advice for the president now, Cohen said, "Lay off Twitter, run the country the way that we all thought that you would ... bring the country together, instead of dividing the country".



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