Charging Trump Over Hush Money Payouts Implicates Congress In The Same Behavior

Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison Wednesday for crimes that included making false statements to Congress, tax evasion, and arranging payments during the 2016 election to silence women who claimed they had affairs with Trump. He had told prosecutors during his guilty plea that Trump had directed him to make the hush money payments. Cohen pleaded guilty in two campaign finance violations by facilitating payments to two payments to women who claimed an affair with the president prior to the campaign.

When asked whether the president knew it was wrong to make the payments - which were to two women claiming to have slept with Trump, Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal - Cohen replied: "Of course", adding that the goal was to "help [Trump] and his campaign".

Mr Trump "was very concerned about how this would affect the election", Cohen said.

In an exclusive interview on Good Morning America, Cohen declared that the real goal behind the payoffs to Donald Trump's mistresses was to protect his presidential campaign.

"I gave loyalty to someone who truthfully does not deserve loyalty."

Cohen is the first - and so far, only - member of Trump's circle during two years of investigations to go into open court and implicate the president in a crime, though whether a president can be prosecuted under the Constitution is an open question. Federal law requires contributions of "anything of value" to a campaign be disclosed, and an individual donation can not exceed US$2,700.

Michael Cohen, center, President Donald Trump's former lawyer, accompanied by his children Samantha, left, and Jake, right, arrives at federal court for his sentencing in New York, Dec. 12, 2018.

Cohen was sentenced Wednesday to three years in federal prison.

But he was as combative as ever on Twitter Thursday when he sought to distance himself from Cohen, his loyal fixer for a decade.

Prosecutors also said American Media did not report the payments to the Federal Election Commission.

Neither Guy Petrillo, a lawyer for Cohen, nor Jay Sekulow, an attorney for Trump, immediately responded to requests for comment. "There's a substantial amount of information that they possess that corroborates the fact that I am telling the truth". "And it's sad that I should take responsibility for his dirty deeds".

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"Each of these crimes standing alone warrant considerable punishment", Pauley said, adding that Cohen was "motivated by personal greed and ambition".

'Because what that means is, this is not simply Michael Cohen's word against Donald Trump's, it is now Donald Trump's word against everyone else, ' he added.

Trump, in the Fox interview, insisted the campaign finance charges Cohen pleaded guilty to are "not criminal" and were included exclusively to "embarrass him".

But election-law experts say those arguments are getting harder to make, as the crimes outlined by federal prosecutors this week pose fresh legal risks for Trump and his campaign.

"Instead of him taking responsibility for his actions, what does he do?"

He tweets: "If anyone is looking for a good lawyer, I would strongly suggest that you don't retain the services of Michael Cohen!".

Maurice Cohen, 83, reportedly wrote a letter to the court asking for leniency, in which he detailed the family's history; the elder Cohen survived the Holocaust and emigrated from Poland to Canada, he wrote, attending medical school in Toronto before finding work in the U.S.

The Justice Department, in opinions issued by its Office of Legal Counsel, has said a sitting president can not be indicted because a criminal case would interfere with the duties of the commander in chief.

Prosecutors in NY have reached a cooperation agreement with American Media Inc. These are the people whom Mueller - and the American people - will need to call on to reveal the truth about our President.

The raid was overseen by the USA attorney's office in Manhattan and arose from a referral from special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian election interference. "If it were, it's only civil, and even if it's only civil, there was no violation based on what we did", Trump said.

  • Michelle Webb