Trump denies directing lawyer to break law

The president is not disputing that he directed Cohen to make the payments, but he's insisting that he didn't know it was illegal, so therefore it wasn't illegal (???).

Trump questioned the charges against Cohen, arguing that prosecutors were just trying to get to him.

"Last time I checked, a lawyer does what you ask him to do".

"He knows the truth".

But the New York-based prosecutors who handled the case had urged the judge to sentence Cohen to a "substantial" prison term and said he failed to tell investigators everything he knows. Cohen said he chose not to enter into a full cooperation agreement because "the sooner I am sentenced, the sooner I can return to my family".

Then he doubled down on a statement he made in court on Thursday. "The people of the United States of America - the people of the world -- don't believe what he's saying", he said. And Cohen, who once had traded on his relationship with Trump and boasted that he would take a bullet for him, has turned on his former boss of 10 years, most notably implicating him in the hush-money scandal. Cohen said Trump told him to pay the two women to keep quiet. That doesn't mean Trump directed him to do so illegally.

White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said Friday that reporters were "giving credence to a convicted criminal". "I should not be the only one taking responsibility for [Trump's] actions", Cohen said.

Cohen was sentenced to three years in federal prison for financial crimes, lying to Congress and campaign finance violations in connection with the hush money payments made to adult film star Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, and Karen McDougal, who have both claimed to have had affairs with Trump more than a decade ago.

"I don't think there's anybody that believes that".

The publication bought McDougal's story of her alleged 2006-2007 affair with Trump with the express objective of killing it so it would not surface before Election Day in November 2016, to boost Trump's chances of winning the White House.

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When asked whether the president knew it was wrong to make the payments - which were to two women claiming to have slept with Trump, Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal - Cohen replied: "Of course", adding that the goal was to "help [Trump] and his campaign". If Trump had any other benefit from it, not only would it not qualify as a campaign expense, it would be prohibited from being considered one by FEC regulation, as former FEC commissioner Brad Smith explained this week.

He is the first member of Mr Trump's inner circle to be jailed over the special counsel's inquiry into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

But, in the ABC interview, the lawyer hit back: "He directed me to make the payments, he directed me to become involved in these matters", said Cohen.

In an exclusive interview on Good Morning America, Cohen declared that the real goal behind the payoffs to Donald Trump's mistresses was to protect his presidential campaign.

Federal prosecutors said that AMI admitted as part of a plea deal that McDougal's $150,000 payout was arranged "in concert with a candidate's presidential campaign" with the intent of influencing the elections. They were made two weeks before the election, "post-Billy Bush comments", AKA the instance that infamous "Access Hollywood" tape came out.

Cohen pleaded guilty in August to evading $1.4 million in taxes related to his personal businesses.

If Trump wins reelection, when he leaves office the statute would have expired on any campaign finance violations from his 2016 election. It's not like the Trump organization where he would bark out orders and people would blindly follow what he wanted done. "He doesn't understand the system". So sad! Is this a first, never heard of it before?

On another front, a NY state judge last month rejected Trump's request to dismiss a lawsuit in which New York's attorney general accused him of misusing his namesake foundation to advance his 2016 campaign and his businesses.

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

"Lay off Twitter, run the country the way that we all thought that you would, be able to take the Democrats, Republicans, bring them together and bring the country together instead of dividing the country", he said.

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