Donald Trump insists he was ‘not involved’ in Michael Cohen’s crimes
President Trump said Thursday that his former lawyer Michael Cohen, who paid hush-money to two women alleging affairs with Mr. Trump, pleaded guilty to crimes that were “totally unrelated” to his presidential campaign in 2016.
“I’m not involved. I wasn’t charged with anything,” Mr. Trump said on “Fox Friends.” “They got Cohen on things totally unrelated to the campaign.”
Cohen pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to eight felonies of bank fraud, tax evasion and campaign-finance violations, the latter charges involving the payments to former Playboy model Karen McDougal and porn actress Stormy Daniels. He admitted in court that he made the payments totaling $280,000, far exceeding the individual campaign donor limit of $2,700, at the direction of Mr. Trump prior to the election.
Mr. Trump said the campaign violations “weren’t even crimes.”
“He pled to two counts which aren’t a crime,” the president said. “They aren’t campaign finance. They didn’t come from the campaign.”
The president has said he reimbursed Cohen. Federal law allows candidates to contribute unlimited amounts to their own campaigns.
He noted that former President Obama’s campaign was fined by the Federal Election Commission in 2013 for a “massive” campaign violation involving failure to disclose millions of dollars of donations.
“But they had a different attorney general, and they viewed it a lot differently,” Mr. Trump said. “We have somebody that they seem to like to go after a lot of Republicans.”
Mr. Trump also pushed back against the argument that Cohen was heavily involved with his business at the Trump Organization.
“He was a lawyer for me, one of many,” Mr. Trump said. “I don’t know if he was a ‘fixer.’ He worked for me, you could really say it was part-time. He had other clients. I’m not his only client. He did small deals, not somebody that was with me that much. It turned out he wasn’t a very good lawyer, frankly.”