Trump denies directing Michael Cohen to break the law, says it is Cohen's fault if anything illegal happened

  • President Donald Trump on Thursday denied directing his former lawyer Michael Cohen to break the law.
  • Cohen on Wednesday was sentenced to three years in prison for crimes he committed while employed by Trump.
  • Trump said that it was Cohen’s own fault if anything he did on Trump’s behalf was illegal and that as a lawyer Cohen should have known the law.
  • Cohen has implicated Trump in numerous federal crimes.
  • Trump said Cohen pleaded guilty only to embarrass the president and to get a shorter sentence.

President Donald Trump on Thursday denied directing his former lawyer Michael Cohen to break the law, saying it was Cohen’s fault if anything he did on Trump’s behalf was illegal.

“I never directed Michael Cohen to break the law,” Trump tweeted the day after Cohen was sentenced. “He was a lawyer and he is supposed to know the law.”

Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison on Wednesday for an array of crimes he committed while employed by Trump.

Cohen has implicated Trump in some of those crimes, saying he broke the law out of “blind loyalty” to the president. He said in court that he had felt it was his “duty” to cover for what he described as Trump’s “dirty deeds.”

Read more:

How Michael Cohen went from saying he would ‘take a bullet’ for Trump to implicating him in federal crimes

“I have been living in a personal and mental incarceration ever since the day that I accepted the offer to work for a real-estate mogul whose business acumen that I deeply admired,” he said.

Cohen’s lawyer, Guy Petrillo, said during Wednesday’s sentencing that Cohen had come forward “to offer evidence against the most powerful person in our country.”

Lanny Davis, an adviser to Cohen, also said the president’s former lawyer would “state publicly all he knows” about the president.

Cohen lied to Congress about plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow and facilitated hush-money payments in 2016 to two women who said they had affairs with the president.

Cohen implicated Trump in the payments, which were found to violate campaign finance laws because Cohen said they were intended to help Trump in the 2016 presidential election.

Trump said on Twitter on Thursday that Cohen “was guilty on many charges unrelated to me.” He said the charges Cohen pleaded guilty to were not criminal and repeated an earlier argument that Cohen pleaded guilty to get a shorter sentence.

“Cohen was guilty on many charges unrelated to me, but he plead to two campaign charges which were not criminal and of which he probably was not guilty even on a civil basis,” Trump wrote.

“Those charges were just agreed to by him in order to embarrass the president and get a much reduced prison sentence, which he did-including the fact that his family was temporarily let off the hook. As a lawyer, Michael has great liability to me!!”

Trump, who once had a close relationship with Cohen, had called his former personal lawyer a liar before he was sentenced. And over the past few weeks, the president has found himself facing mounting legal and political liability as Cohen cooperated with prosecutors in the Southern District of New York as well as those working for the special counsel Robert Mueller.

On Wednesday, federal prosecutors announced that they had reached a nonprosecution agreement with American Media Inc., the parent company of the National Enquirer, which spent $US150,000 to purchase the rights to, but not publish, the account of Karen McDougal, the model who said she had a 10-month affair with Trump.

While Cohen says he broke the law at Trump’s direction, Trump’s attorneys argue that the payments to buy the silence of McDougal and of the porn star Stormy Daniels, who Cohen paid $US130,000 in October 2016 to keep her from discussing what she says was a 2006 affair with Trump, were a “simple private transaction” and did not constitute campaign finance violations because they were made to protect Trump’s family and businesses.

But election-law experts and former federal prosecutors aren’t convinced that Trump, who has denied having an affair with either woman, was concerned about the women’s stories solely for personal reasons.

“The timing and surrounding facts, which include a NPA with the Enquirer, show a pattern of purposeful concealment with the sole intent of hiding the truth from the electorate a month before the election,” Jeffrey Cramer, a former longtime federal prosecutor in Chicago, told INSIDER.

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