Donald Trump former lawyer Michael Cohen has admitted that Donald Trump directed him to arrange hush-money payments with two women who have had affairs with the candidate. Because they were very concerned about how the issue would affect the election outcome if it became public in an interview with ABC News.
When asked by the ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos ,whether the President was fully aware of what his lawyer was doing.
He answered ” of course”
When asked if the president also knew it was wrong to make the payments, Cohen replied, “Of course,” adding that the purpose was to “help him and his campaign.”
Cohen said he is “angry at himself” for his role in the deals, but that he did it out of “blind loyalty” to Trump.
“I gave loyalty to someone who, truthfully, does not deserve loyalty,” he added.
The comments are his first, since he was sentenced to three years in prison by a federal judge for financial crimes, lying to Congress on Trump Tower and violation of campaign financial law.
He pleaded guilty in helping to arrange payments to the two women Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal who had past relationship with Donald Trump.
Mr Cohen has provided some damming information to the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Mr. Trump’s legal strategy is in a big dilemma. Trump is also implicated in campaign finance violations because he said the President authorized the payment.
The former attorney to Trump also opined that “the pressure of the job is much more” than what the president thought it was going to be”
Meanwhile, the president has denied allegations of the affairs. He has also argued that the deals were private and unrelated to the campaign and that if anything illegal occurred, it was Cohen’s responsibility.
Trump has lashed out at Cohen since his sentencing, using his Twitter handle to explain that he only agreed to plead guilty “in order to embarrass the president and get a much reduced prison sentence, which he did.”
“It is absolutely not true,” Cohen replied. “Under no circumstances do I want to embarrass the president. He knows the truth. I know the truth.”
Cohen was very uncomfortable by another tweets on Thursday from Donald Trump in which the President implied that prosecutors investigating Cohen had let his wife and Father in-law off the hook.
“Instead of him taking responsibility for his actions, what does he do?He attacks my family” Cohen said.
“I don’t think there is anybody that believes that, 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 told Stephanopoulos.
“He knows the truth. I know the truth. Others know the truth. And here is the truth: People of the United States of America, people of the world, don’t believe what he is saying. The man doesn’t tell the truth. And it is sad that I should take responsibility for his dirty deeds.”
When asked about his conviction for lying to Congress and for tax evasion and banking crimes, Cohen said ; ” I’m done with lying “, “I am done being loyal to President Trump and my first loyalty belongs to my wife, my daughter, my son and this country.”
“Why should we believe you now?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“Because the special counsel stated emphatically that the information that I gave to them is credible and helpful,” Cohen replied. “There’s a substantial amount of information that they possessed that corroborates the fact that I am telling the truth.”
Cohen will report to prison on March 6 and has professed his willingness to continue to answer questions for special counsel Robert Mueller and other federal and state investigators.
He however declined in the interview to answer specific questions about the Mueller investigation “out of respect for process.” “I don’t want to jeopardize any of their investigations,” he said.
But when confronted with the question on if he thinks the president is telling the truth about the Russia probe, Cohen replied simply, “No.”
Cohen once said he would “take a bullet” for the president, but now he finds himself opposing the president and facing the prospect of becoming a witness against him.
“It’s never good to be on the wrong side of the president of the United States of America, but somehow or another this task has now fallen onto my shoulders and as I also stated. I will spend the rest of my life in order to fix the mistake that I made.” Cohen said.
“He’s a very different individual,” Cohen said. “I think the pressure of the job is much more than what he thought it was going to be. It’s not like the Trump organization where he would bark out orders and people would blindly follow what he wanted done. There’s a system here; he doesn’t understand the system and it’s sad because the country has never been more divisive and one of the hopes that I have out of the punishment that I’ve received as well as the cooperation that I have given I will be remembered in history as helping to bring this country back together.
“I will not be the villain of his story,” he said.
And Cohen refuted the president’s contention that he never directed Cohen to do anything wrong.
Federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York have implicated, but not charged, the president in the deals reached in the closing weeks of the 2016 election. They allege that Cohen acted “in coordination with and at the direction of” Trump, according to court filings. Prosecutors also reavhed a non-prosecution agreement with AMI, the publishers of the National Inquirer, in which the tabloid admitted to making a $150,000 payment to McDougal “in concert” with the Trump campaign
On Thursday, Mr. Trump and one of his personal attorneys, Rudolph W. Giuliani, said the president was not to be blamed for the campaign finance crimes, because he trusted his lawyer, Mr. Cohen, to know the law.
Below are tweets from the President Donald Trump.
“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……”
“….stated that I did nothing wrong with respect to campaign finance laws, if they even apply, because this was not campaign finance. Cohen was guilty on many charges unrelated to me, but he plead to two campaign charges which were not criminal and of which he probably was not…”
“….guilty even on a civil basis. Those charges were just agreed to by him in order to embarrass the president and get a much reduced prison sentence, which he did-including the fact that his family was temporarily let off the hook. As a lawyer, Michael has great liability to me!”
“They gave General Flynn a great deal because they were embarrassed by the way he was treated – the FBI said he didn’t lie and they overrode the FBI. They want to scare everybody into making up stories that are not true by catching them in the smallest of misstatements. Sad!……”