Trump Denies Directing Cohen to “Break the Law”

“Michael has great liability to me!”

CaptionWang Ying/ZUMA

President Donald Trump denied on Thursday having directed his former personal attorney Michael Cohen to “break the law.” The president’s statements come a day after Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison.

Trump has come under scrutiny for allegedly directing Cohen to make hush-money payments during the 2016 election to silence women about their alleged affairs with the then-presidential candidate. In an apparent attempt to further shield himself from mounting legal troubles, Trump on Thursday claimed that the payments did not violate campaign finance laws. He also claimed that Cohen made statements implicating the president in order to “embarrass” him and receive a more lenient sentence.

Trump’s tweets directly challenge federal prosecutors, who in a court filing last week said Cohen arranged the payments “at the direction” of Trump in violation of campaign finance laws. They also contradict Trump’s previous public statements professing to have no knowledge of the payments.

Trump has yet to comment on the explosive admission from American Media Inc.—the parent company of the National Enquirer—that it paid $150,000 to suppress a damaging story about the president and “prevent it from influencing the election.”

On Thursday, NBC News reported that Trump has privately expressed increasing fear over the prospect of impeachment.