Trump: Cohen’s hush-money payouts didn’t break campaign finance laws
President Trump on Wednesday insisted there was no violation of campaign finance laws when his longtime lawyer paid a porn star and Playboy centerfold hush money — and blamed his predicament on Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Asked by “Fox & Friends” host Ainsley Earhardt if he knew about the payments, Trump claimed he only found out about the payments made by admitted tax cheat Michael Cohen after the fact.
“Later on I knew. Later on. But you have to understand, Ainsley, what he did. And they weren’t taken out of campaign finance. That’s a big thing, that’s a much bigger thing,” the president said in a 50-second snippet of an interview that will air on the show Thursday morning beginning at 6 a.m.
“Did they come out of the campaign? They didn’t come out of the campaign, they came from me. I tweeted about it. You know, but I tweeted about the payments. But they didn’t come out of campaign,” the president said, suggesting that since his personal or his company’s money was involved, no laws were broken.
“In fact my first question, when I heard about it was did they come out of the campaign? Because that could be a little dicey and they didn’t come out of the campaign, and that’s big. But they weren’t. It’s not even a campaign violation,” he continued.
In the “Fox & Friends” clip, Trump also made an oblique reference to purported wrongdoing by former President Barack Obama.
“If you look at President Obama, he had a massive campaign violation, but they had a different attorney general and they viewed it a lot differently,” he said, an apparent reference to either Eric Holder or Loretta Lynch, Obama’s two attorneys general.
The feds fined Obama’s 2008 campaign for failing to expeditiously report last-minute contributions.
“It is, ethically and morally, entirely of a different character,” said Dan Petalas, former acting general counsel and head of enforcement at the Federal Election Commission.
Cohen on Tuesday pleaded guilty to a series of charges and said Trump had directed him to arrange the payments to influence the election.
Corporations are not permitted to contribute to campaigns, and money intended to influence an election must be reported.
— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) August 22, 2018