Donald Trump knew hush money was wrong, says Cohen

Saul Bowman
December 18, 2018

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.

After earlier saying he knew nothing of the payments, Trump on Thursday said he never told Cohen to break the law.

Cohen pleaded guilty to two counts of campaign finance violations which Trump can argue did not involve campaign finance.

He claimed in an interview with Fox News that he "did nothing wrong" and said prosecutors had cooked up the charges to embarrass him. "Whatever he did, he did on his own".

Stephanopoulos: And he knew it was wrong?

Cohen assured Stephanopoulos that Trump was aware his actions were "wrong" and gave the order anyway.

"I don't think there is anybody that believes that", Cohen said.

Donald Trump's former personal lawyer says he bought the silence of two women because Mr Trump was "very concerned" about how their stories of alleged affairs with him would affect his election chances. "I don't think we made a payment to that tabloid".

In the president's case, Rodgers said, Trump would have to establish that he was actually seeking Cohen's legal advice in connection with the hush-money payments and not relying on him to handle the matter as his long-time fixer.

"I am angry at myself because I knew what I was doing was wrong", Cohen said, his eyes swollen and purple, but he said he had come to terms with the value of telling the truth. "Others know the truth", Cohen said.

Cohen, who pleaded guilty to all the charges against him, told the court that he had felt it was his "duty to cover up".

As part of his agreement with prosecutors, Cohen admitted that he lied to Congress when he said negotiations that he and other Trump aides held with powerful Russians about a potential real estate project in Moscow had not continued well into the 2016 presidential campaign.

The White House has since changed its story.

"I followed a bad path and hence how we started this conversation", he said.

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

The affairs allegedly happened years before, so the timing of the hush payments right before an election immediately raised questions. He must report to federal prison to begin serving his time in March.

The statement of admitted facts, according to NBC, says the the objective of the payment "was to suppress the woman's story so as to prevent it from influencing the election".

The lawyer expanded on the suspicious timing of the payments.

"That sort of gets into the whole investigation right now between (the) special counsel's office, the attorney general's office, you also have the Southern District of NY - I don't want to jeopardize any of their investigations", he said. "Under no circumstances do I want to embarrass the president of the United States of America".

"Cohen just trying to get his sentence reduced", Trump wrote on Twitter. Trump denies those claims. Cohen's wife, two kids were there, as was more of his family.

"He's a very different individual", Cohen said.

Cohen once claimed he'd take a bullet for Mr Trump, but now many are wondering if he will be the "smocking gun" that brings down a president.

Considering Cohen was charged for lying to Congress, Stephanopoulos asked Cohen a justified answer: "Why should we believe you now?"

Trump issues a blanket denial that he knew anything about payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels, telling reporters they should "ask Michael Cohen".

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