Sunday 16 June 2019

Trump knew it was 'wrong' to pay hush money: Cohen

Michael Cohen said Donald Trump ‘directed me to make the payments’ to the two women. Photo: Jeenah Moon/Reuters
Michael Cohen said Donald Trump ‘directed me to make the payments’ to the two women. Photo: Jeenah Moon/Reuters

Ben Riley-Smith

Michael Cohen has claimed his former boss Donald Trump was aware that giving hush money to two women claiming affairs during the 2016 election campaign was "wrong" but directed him to make the payments anyway.

Cohen, jailed for three years for crimes including breaking campaign finance laws over the payments, said the US president was lying when he said he did not order the move.

Mr Trump, who denies ordering the payments, has insisted the money paid was not a campaign contribution and therefore broke no laws.

It centres on two payments made in the run-up to the 2016 presidential vote to Stormy Daniels, a porn star, and Karen McDougal, a former 'Playboy' playmate, who both claimed affairs with Mr Trump.

The payments - $130,000 (€115,000) to Ms Daniels and $150,000 (€132,500) to Ms McDougal - were used to buy their silence by purchasing the rights to their stories and then keeping them secret, while barring the women from speaking out with non-disclosure agreements.

Cohen, a one-time Trump loyalist who served as his lawyer and "fixer" for a decade, admitted facilitating the payments this year after he faced a slew of criminal charges including tax evasion and lying to a financial institution.

Sentenced to three years in prison on Wednesday, Cohen gave an interview with ABC News which aired yesterday, doubling down on his claim that it was Mr Trump who ordered the payments and dismissing the president's denials.

"Nothing at the Trump Organisation was ever done unless it was run through Mr Trump," Cohen said. "He directed me to make the payments, he directed me to become involved in these matters."

Asked if Mr Trump knew "it was wrong" to make the payments, Cohen said "of course". And on whether Mr Trump made the move to help his election chances, Cohen said "yes, he was very concerned about how this would affect the election".

Asked about Mr Trump's claim he co-operated to protect his family, Cohen said: "Inaccurate."

"He knows the truth, I know the truth, others know the truth, and here is the truth: The people of the United States of America, people of the world, don't believe what he is saying," added Cohen.

"The man doesn't tell the truth. And it is sad that I should take responsibility for his dirty deeds."

Irish Independent

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