Donald Trump has denied hush money payments made to two women who say they had affairs with him came from election finances – but admitted he did know about the payments.
Trump spoke out after his former lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations and alleged he was ‘directed’ by the President to make the payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal.
In a TV interview with Fox & Friends, Trump said the payments came from him personally, not from the campaign.
He said: ‘Later on, I knew. Later on. They weren’t taken out of campaign finance. That’s a big thing. That’s a much bigger thing. Did they come out of the campaign? They came from me. I tweeted about it. I don’t know if you know, but I tweeted about the payments.
‘But they didn’t come out of the campaign. In fact, my first question when I heard about it was, did they come out of the campaign? Because that could be a little dicey. They didn’t come out of the campaign, and that’s big. It’s not even a campaign violation.”
In the interview, Trump argued that the hush-money payouts were not ‘even a campaign violation’ because he subsequently reimbursed Cohen for the payments personally instead of with campaign funds.
As recently as April, Mr Trump had denied all knowledge of any payments.
Federal law restricts how much individuals can donate to a campaign, bars corporations from making direct contributions and requires the disclosure of transactions.
Cohen had said on Tuesday he secretly used shell companies to make payments used to silence former Playboy model Ms McDougal and porn star Ms Daniels for the purpose of influencing the 2016 election.
Trump’s comments seem to contradict the release of a September 2016 taped conversation in which Trump and Cohen can be heard discussing a deal to pay Ms McDougal for her story of a 2006 affair she says she had with the President.
Following Cohen’s guilty plea, Trump accused his former lawyer of lying under pressure so that he could negotiate a lighter sentence.
Cohen pleaded guilty on Tuesday to eight charges, including campaign finance violations that he said he carried out in coordination with Trump, while the President’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was also convicted on financial charges.
At a White House briefing, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders insisted at least seven times that Trump had done nothing wrong and was not the subject of criminal charges.
The only thing that I have done wrong is to win an election that was expected to be won by Crooked Hillary Clinton and the Democrats. The problem is, they forgot to campaign in numerous states!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 23, 2018
Trump tweeted late on Wednesday: ‘The only thing that I have done wrong is to win an election that was expected to be won by Crooked Hillary Clinton and the Democrats.
‘The problem is, they forgot to campaign in numerous states!’