U.S. President Donald Trump warned Thursday that any effort to impeach him would have dire economic consequences.
“If I ever got impeached, I think the market would crash. I think everybody would be very poor," Trump said in an interview with Fox News. "I don't know how you can impeach somebody who's done a great job."
Trump was responding to speculation that Democrats would seek to impeach the president should they re-take the House of Representatives in November's midterm elections.
The effort gained renewed energy after Trump's longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen told a district court judge in New York that he made hush money payments to an adult film actress and a former Playboy model "at the direction" of Trump with the intent to "influence the election."
Cohen did not name the two women, nor did he directly name Trump, but said he was working "in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office."
The timeline, however, matches up with Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy playmate Karen McDougal who allege affairs with Trump.
The president has denied having affairs with the women, and he and his team have denied he had any knowledge of the payments before they were made.
But Cohen's testimony, coupled with the conviction of Trump's former campaign chairman on eight financial charges Tuesday, has increased the prospects that Democrats would seek to oust the president should they take the House -- where impeachment proceedings must begin.
Should impeachment be approved by a simple majority in the chamber proceedings would commence in the Senate where two-thirds of senators would have to find the president guilty for him to be removed.
Seeking to downplay his relationship with Cohen, Trump said his self-described "fixer" only worked for him part-time.
"He was a lawyer for me, one of many," Trump said. "He’s been a lawyer for me. Didn’t do big deals, did small deals. Not somebody that was with me that much.”
Trump tore into Cohen during the Fox & Friends interview for what he called "flipping," saying Cohen "makes a better deal when he uses me, like everybody else."
“For 30, 40 years I’ve been watching flippers. Everything’s wonderful and then they get 10 years in jail and they - they flip on whoever the next highest one is, or as high as you can go,” Trump said. “It almost ought to be outlawed. It’s not fair."
Trump meanwhile continued to heap praise on his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. He did not say whether he would pardon Manafort, who at 68 faces an essential life sentence of up to 80 years in prison.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham warned Trump against issuing Manafort a pardon, however, telling reporters on Capitol Hill on Wednesdaty he does not think it "would go over well."
"A pardon in this circumstance would be perceived by many Americans as interfering with an investigation," he said.
Amid the growing pressure, Trump took aim at his top law enforcement official, saying Attorney General Jeff Sessions "never took control of the Justice Department."
The comments prompted Sessions to issue a highly unusual rebuke of his boss, saying in a statement he "took control of the Department of Justice the day I was sworn in, which is why we have had unprecedented success at effectuating the President’s agenda."
"While I am Attorney General, the actions of the Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations," Sessions said. "I demand the highest standards, and where they are not met, I take action."
By Michael Hernandez in Washington