Cohen: Trump knew hush payments were wrong

In an interview with ABC News, President Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen said that Trump knew the hush payments to Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels were wrong, and Cohen was angry for his role in the payments.

Posted: Dec 15, 2018 2:47 PM
Updated: Dec 15, 2018 2:54 PM

President Donald Trump's former attorney and "fixer" Michael Cohen said his former boss knew that having Cohen arranging payments during the 2016 election to silence women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump was wrong, and that he is "done being loyal" to Trump.

Reiterating what he said in his guilty plea in August, Cohen told ABC News that Trump directed him to make the payments because Trump "was very concerned about how this would affect the election."

"(Trump) was trying to hide what you were doing correct?" ABC News' George Stephanopoulos asked Cohen in the interview that aired Friday morning.

"Correct," Cohen replied.

"And he knew it was wrong?" Stephanopoulos asked.

"Of course," said Cohen.

Cohen said he too 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."

Asked why he should be believed, Cohen replied, "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."

The President's lawyer Rudy Giuliani slammed Cohen, telling CNN the public can't believe a thing Cohen says and that Cohen lied under oath, referencing Cohen's guilty plea in November to lying to Congress.

A court filing in early December from special counsel Robert Mueller made clear there was evidence to back up Cohen's information.

"The information he has provided has been credible and consistent with other evidence obtained in the SCO's ongoing investigation," the filing stated.

Trump said in an interview with Fox News Thursday that he "never directed (Cohen) to do anything wrong."

"I don't think there's anybody that believes that," Cohen told ABC News of Trump's denials. "First of all, nothing at the Trump organization was ever done unless it was run through Mr. Trump."

The President's former fixer -- who once said he'd "take a bullet" for Trump -- told ABC News he "gave loyalty to someone who truthfully does not deserve loyalty" and that he "should not be the only one taking responsibility for his actions."

"So, (Trump's) still lying?" Stephanopoulos asked.

"Yes," Cohen responded.

In response to Cohen's claim, Giuliani told CNN that Trump has "never lied about the Russia investigation" and reiterated the claim that the probe is much ado about nothing.

Before he took office and early into his administration, Trump repeatedly denied any contact between members of his campaign team and Russians. At least 16 Trump associates had contacts with Russians during the 2016 campaign or transition, according to public statements, court filings, CNN reporting and reporting from other news outlets.

During a Reuters interview published late Tuesday, Trump tried to brush off a question about his associates' interactions with Russians ahead of and during his presidential campaign by saying it was just "peanut stuff."

Trump also denied having business dealings in Russia throughout the 2016 campaign. He repeatedly said, "I have nothing to do with Russia."

Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison Wednesday after pleading guilty to campaign finance violations, tax evasion and making false statements to a bank as well as to Congress.

He had pleaded guilty in August in a Manhattan US attorney's case to two campaign-finance violations tied to payments he made or orchestrated to adult-film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal to stay silent about alleged sexual encounters with Trump.

Prosecutors have said that in executing the payments, Cohen "acted in coordination with and at the direction of" Trump, who has denied having the affairs with the two women.

Cohen told ABC News Trump is a very different person than the man he used to work for.

"I think the pressure of the job is much more than what he thought it was going to be," Cohen said. "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."

This story has been updated.

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