President Donald Trump, in an effort to distance himself from his longtime former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, claimed Cohen worked for him “part time” and was just one of many attorneys he had on his payroll.
Trump told “Fox and Friends” in an interview Thursday that Cohen — who pleaded guilty this week to tax evasion, bank fraud and campaign finance violations and admitted he made hush-money payments to women at Trump's direction — “worked more or less” as a “part-time” employee for him.
“He was a lawyer for me, one of many,” Trump said. “Didn't do big deals, did small deals.”
Cohen, in fact, was a vice president of the Trump Organization when he left the company in May. A former personal injury lawyer, he began working for the company in 2007 after helping Trump win a fight with the board at his condominium tower near the United Nations.
Cohen pleaded guilty Tuesday to eight counts of tax evasion, bank fraud and campaign finance violations, including two counts related to hush-money payments made to women who said they had affairs with Trump.
Cohen told the court that he had paid the women, apparently porn actress Stormy Daniels and ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal, "at the direction" of an unnamed candidate in 2016, and that a $150,000 payment in August 2016 was for the "principal purpose of influencing" the 2016 presidential election. Both Daniels and McDougal have said they had relationships with Trump. Asked if he knew that what he did was illegal, Cohen told the court yes.
Trump has spent much of the last 24 hours criticizing Cohen.
In his interview with “Fox and Friends,” Trump slammed Cohen for “flipping.”
“If you can say something bad about Donald Trump and you can get two or three years … most people are going to do that,” he said.
“It’s called flipping,” Trump added, “and it almost ought be to illegal."
The charges against Cohen stem from a probe being led by the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, which is working with the FBI and the IRS.