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Cohen: Trump ordered hush payments knowing it was wrong

December 14, 2018

President Donald Trump directed Michael Cohen to make hush payments to women alleging affairs with him out of concern about “how this would affect the election,” the attorney said in an interview with ABC News.

The interview marked Cohen’s first since being sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to breaking campaign-finance laws by arranging the payments, as well as lying to Congress and banks.

“Of course,” Cohen said when asked if Trump knew it was wrong to make the payments, adding that the purpose was to help Trump and his campaign, according to an ABC News account of the interview.

Trump said Thursday he never directed Cohen to break the law and said that, as a lawyer, Cohen should know what’s legal and what’s not.

“I knew what I was doing was wrong,” Cohen told ABC News’ Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos. “I stood up before the world and I accepted the responsibility for my actions.”

Cohen’s attorney Lanny Davis said Wednesday that he is willing to reveal publicly what he knows about Trump once Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe is finished.

The special counsel’s team interviewed Cohen for about 70 hours, but little is known about what he shared. Cohen has admitted to lying to Congress and Mueller’s investigators about the timing of a proposed Trump tower in Moscow and Trump’s involvement in the project. Davis said that false testimony was shared with the White House before Cohen submitted it to Congress and it is possible Trump was aware at the time that Cohen would make false statements.

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