Cohen: Trump told me to make hush-money payments, no one believes the president

In his first interview since his sentencing, Trump's former personal attorney and fixer said "of course" the president knew it was wrong.

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By Dartunorro Clark

President Donald Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen said on Friday that the president directed him to make hush money payments to women who claimed they had affairs with Trump.

Cohen made the comments in an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America" in which he said he knew what he was doing was wrong and refuted Trump's claim that he "never directed Michael Cohen to break the law."

"I don't think there is anybody that believes that. First of all, nothing at the Trump organization was ever done unless it was run through Mr. Trump," Cohen said. "He directed me, as I said in my allocution, and I said as well in the plea, he directed me to make the payments, he directed me to become involved in these matters."

Cohen added that "of course" Trump knew it was wrong to make the payments to the women.

"You have to remember at what point in time this matter came about. Two weeks or so before the election, post-Billy Bush comments," Cohen said, referring to the infamous "Access Hollywood" tape in which Trump was heard bragging about grabbing women's genitals without consent.

"So, yes, he was very concerned about how this would affect the election."

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The interview is the first time Cohen has spoken publicly after he was sentenced Wednesday to three years in prison after pleading guilty in Manhattan federal court to nine federal charges.

At his sentencing, Cohen said that "time and time again, I felt it was my duty to cover up [Trump's] dirty deeds."

Trump on Thursday tweeted after the sentencing that Cohen's conviction is a plot to "embarrass" him.

"I never directed Michael Cohen to break the law," Trump said on Twitter. "He was a lawyer and he is supposed to know the law. It is called 'advice of counsel,' and a lawyer has great liability if a mistake is made. That is why they get paid."

The hush money payments included $130,000 to porn star Stormy Daniels and $150,000 to former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal. Trump has denied both affairs.

NBC News reported on Thursday that Trump was the third person in the room in August 2015 when Cohen and National Enquirer publisher David Pecker discussed ways Pecker could help counter negative stories about Trump's relationships with women.

National Enquirer's parent company, AMI, admitted to federal prosecutors in a non-prosecution deal on Wednesday that it made a $150,000 payment to McDougal "in concert with the campaign" to "catch and kill" her story about the alleged affair.

Cohen excoriated the president in the interview, saying "the man doesn't tell the truth."

"The people of the United States of America, people of the world, don't believe what he is saying," Cohen said. "And it is sad that I should take responsibility for his dirty deeds."

Cohen said that the American public should believe him now "because the special counsel stated emphatically that the information that I gave to them is credible and helpful."

"There is a substantial amount of information that they possessed that corroborates the fact that I am telling the truth," he said.

Cohen also answered "no" to the question of whether Trump is telling the truth about everything related to Russia, but could not fully respond questions about special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation because he is still cooperating with investigators.

"I am done with the lying. I am done being loyal to President Trump, and my first loyalty belongs to my wife, my daughter, my son and this country," Cohen said.