Trump ‘di­rected’ pay­ments

Co­hen says pres­i­dent knew pay-offs were wrong

Sunday Territorian - - WORLD -

WASH­ING­TON: US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump di­rected the pay­ment of hush money to two women shortly be­fore the 2016 US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion and knew that do­ing so was wrong, his for­mer per­sonal lawyer Michael Co­hen says.

“He di­rected me to make the pay­ments. He di­rected me to be­come in­volved in th­ese mat­ters,” Mr Co­hen told Good Morn­ing Amer­ica yes­ter­day.

He was re­fer­ring to the $A208,919 paid to for­mer Play­boy model Karen McDou­gal and the $A181,063 paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels.

Both women claim they had sex­ual re­la­tion­ships more than a decade ago with Mr Trump, which the pres­i­dent and his rep­re­sen­ta­tives have de­nied.

Mr Co­hen, a for­mer mem­ber of Mr Trump’s in­ner cir­cle who in the past called him­self the pres­i­dent’s “fixer,” was sen­tenced on Wednes­day in fed­eral court to three-years’ jail for cam­paign fi­nance law vi­o­la­tions re­lated to the pay­ments and other crimes.

Asked if Mr Trump knew the pay­ments were wrong, Mr Co­hen said: “Of course.”

He bris­tled at Mr Trump’s ac­cu­sa­tion that he was try­ing to em­bar­rass the pres­i­dent and pro­tect his own fam­ily.

“Here is the truth: The peo­ple of the United States of Amer­ica, the peo­ple of the world don’t be­lieve what he’s say­ing,” Mr Co­hen said. “The man doesn’t tell the truth and it’s sad that I should take re­spon­si­bil­ity for his dirty deeds.

“I gave loy­alty to some­one who truth­fully does not de­serve loy­alty.”

Mr Trump has lashed out at Mr Co­hen as “weak” and ac­cused him of ly­ing.

Mr Co­hen, in his first tele­vised in­ter­view since he was sen­tenced, said Mr Trump was wor­ried about the im­pact on the elec­tion if vot­ers learned about the two women’s ac­count of the al­leged af­fairs.

The pay­ments were made “about two weeks or so be­fore the elec­tion”, Mr Co­hen said.

Mean­while, Mr Trump yes­ter­day chose bud­get di­rec­tor Mick Mul­vaney as act­ing chief of staff, end­ing a chaotic search in which con­tenders took them­selves out of the run­ning.

Cur­rent chief of staff John Kelly will re­port­edly re­main un­til the end of the year.

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