U.S. President Donald Trump, in tweets about the stunning legal setbacks involving two of his former lieutenants, on Wednesday attacked the one who has turned on him and defended the one who has remained loyal.
Trump lashed out at former longtime lawyer Michael Cohen in a Twitter post by saying the campaign finance violations Cohen pleaded guilty to in federal court in New York on Tuesday were “not a crime” – even though prosecutors and Cohen agreed that they were. Trump made the claim without offering any evidence.
In another tweet, Trump said, “If anyone is looking for a good lawyer, I would strongly suggest that you don’t retain the services of Michael Cohen.”
At the same time, Trump on Twitter praised former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who was convicted on Tuesday of multiple counts of fraud, as a “brave man” for not cooperating with federal authorities.
Cohen pleaded guilty to eight criminal charges of tax evasion, bank fraud and campaign finance violations. He told a federal court in Manhattan that Trump directed him to arrange payments ahead of the 2016 presidential election to silence two women who said they had affairs with Trump.
Fox News released excerpts of an interview conducted with Trump on Wednesday in which the president said he knew of the payments “later on” but did not elaborate.
After first denying that he knew anything about the payments, Trump earlier this year acknowledged that he reimbursed Cohen for payments he made in late 2016 to Stormy Daniels, an adult-film actress whose real name is Stephanie Clifford. Daniels has alleged she had a relationship with Trump.
The president has insisted he paid Cohen out of personal funds and that the payments were not intended to benefit his campaign but to resolve a personal matter.
“They’re weren’t taken out of campaign finance. That’s a big thing,” Trump said in the Fox interview. “They didn’t come out of the campaign; they came from me.”
This is a lie.
Trump was heard on a secret recording by Michael Cohen proving he knew at the time illegal hush payments were being made.