Cohen: “Of Course” Trump Knew Hush-Money Payments Were Wrong

He also said that the special counsel’s office has “substantial” evidence corroborating his claims.

In his first interview after being sentenced to three years in prison, Michael Cohen said that President Donald Trump personally directed him to arrange hush-money payments out of concern over how Trump’s alleged affairs would affect the 2016 presidential election if they were made public.

“Nothing at the Trump Organization was ever done unless it was run through Mr. Trump,” Cohen told ABC News in an interview that aired Friday morning. “He directed me to make the payments,” Cohen continued. “He directed me to become involved in these matters, including the one with [former Playboy model Karen] McDougal, which was really between him and David Pecker and then David Pecker’s counsel. I just reviewed the documents in order to protect him.”

When asked if Trump knew the payments were wrong at the time, Cohen replied, “Of course.” Cohen emphasized the timing of the payments, which happened mere weeks before the election and after the Washington Post published a bombshell Access Hollywood recording that captured Trump bragging about groping women without their consent.

“You have to remember at what point in time that this matter came about, two weeks or so before the election, post the Billy Bush comments,” Cohen said. “So, yes, he was very concerned about how this would affect the election.”

Cohen’s interview comes in response to Trump’s latest claims that he never directed his former personal attorney and fixer of more than 10 years to “break the law.” The president on Wednesday offered a host of reasons for Cohen’s damaging testimony against him. They included accusations that Cohen was making claims to receive a more lenient sentencing, “embarrass” the president, and protect his father-in-law and wife.

Cohen denied all this, telling ABC News that the special counsel’s office possessed “substantial” evidence corroborating his claims.

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This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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