Trump ‘directed’ payments
Cohen says president knew pay-offs were wrong
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.