US President Donald Trump knew it was wrong to order election-eve hush money paid to two women who claimed affairs with him, his former lawyer Michael Cohen said in an interview to be broadcast Friday.
Trump acted because he “was very concerned about how this would affect the election,” Cohen told ABC News of the women’s allegations in his first comments since being sentenced to three years in prison on Thursday.
He also challenged Trump’s assertion in a tweet on Thursday that he never told him to break the law.
“I don’t think there is anybody that believes that,” Cohen told ABC.
“First of all, nothing at the Trump Organization was ever done unless it was run through Mr Trump. He directed me to make the payments, he directed me to become involved in these matters,” Cohen said.
I never directed Michael Cohen to break the law. He was a lawyer and he is supposed to know the law. It is called “advice of counsel,” and a lawyer has great liability if a mistake is made. That is why they get paid. Despite that many campaign finance lawyers have strongly……
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 13, 2018
When asked if Trump knew they payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal were wrong, he responded, “of course”.
Cohen said he is “angry at himself” for his role in the deals, but that he did it out of “blind loyalty” to Trump, ABC reported.
“I gave loyalty to someone who, truthfully, does not deserve loyalty,” he said.
Three years in jail
Cohen was sentenced to a total of three years in prison on Wednesday for his role in making illegal hush-money payments and lying to Congress about a proposed Trump Tower project in Russia.
US District Judge William Pauley in Manhattan sentenced the lawyer to three years for the payments, and to two months for the false statements to Congress. The two terms will run concurrently.
Judge Pauley said Cohen’s cooperation with prosecutors “does not wipe the slate clean” of his crimes. He also said that Cohen “appears to have lost his moral compass” and that lawyer “should have known better”.
Cohen pleaded guilty in August to charges by federal prosecutors in New York that, just before the election, he paid adult film actress Daniels $130,000 and helped arrange a $150,000 payment to former Playboy model McDougal so the women would keep quiet about their past relationships with Trump, who is married.
Trump denies having had the affairs.
Cohen also admitted to unrelated charges of tax evasion and making false statements to banks.
Trump acted because he ‘was very concerned about how this would affect the election’, Cohen told ABC News.