Americas

Trump ex-lawyer says president knew payments were wrong

'I gave loyalty to someone who, truthfully, does not deserve loyalty,' Michael Cohen says

Michael Hernandez   | 14.12.2018
Trump ex-lawyer says president knew payments were wrong

Washington DC

By Michael Hernandez

WASHINGTON

U.S. President Donald Trump knew hush money payments to two women who allege affairs with him were wrong, his longtime former personal lawyer said Friday.

"Of course" Trump knew the payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal were wrong, Michael Cohen said in an interview with ABC News.

Cohen, who was sentenced earlier this week to three years behind bars for a series of crimes he pled guilty to including campaign finance violations tied to the payments, also acknowledged that Trump also knew what he was doing was wrong.

"I'm done with the lying," Cohen said. "I'm done being loyal to President Trump. My first loyalty belongs to my wife, my daughter, my son and this country."

"I gave loyalty to someone who, truthfully, does not deserve loyalty," he added.

Cohen's comments are his first public statements following his sentencing on Wednesday.

When he was asked why he should be believed, Cohen said: "Because the special counsel stated emphatically that the information that I gave to them is credible and helpful. There's a substantial amount of information that they possess that corroborates the fact that I am telling the truth."

Trump has sought to frame Cohen's cooperation with the investigation as a bid to reduce his prison sentence, emphasizing that if any illegality occurred it was the fault of the man who was long-know as Trump's "fixer."

Trump told Fox News Thursday he "never directed" Cohen to do anything wrong, a suggestion stiffly rejected by the lawyer.

"First of all, nothing at the Trump organization was ever done unless it was run through Mr. Trump," he said.

Cohen said Trump directed him to make the payments because he "was very concerned about how this would affect the election," referring to McDougals' and Daniels' allegations of lurid affairs.

While Trump has denied the sexual encounters ever took place he has produced shifting explanations for what he knew about the payments.

Prosecutors in the case said that in arranging the payments Cohen "acted in coordination with and at the direction" of Trump, whom they referred to as Individual 1.

It remains unclear if prosecutors could bring charges against Trump as he is a sitting president, but he has nonetheless been implicated by them in official documents.

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