WASHINGTON — Michael Cohen, the former longtime attorney for Donald Trump, said Friday that the president is lying about his hand in campaign finance violations as well as matters involving Russia and his 2016 campaign.
In his first interview since he was sentenced on Wednesday to three years in prison, Cohen told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that Trump simply “doesn’t tell the truth.”
Cohen pleaded guilty to a myriad of crimes, including a campaign finance infraction that appears to implicate the president.
According to federal prosecutors, Trump directed Cohen to oversee payments to two women shortly before the election in order to buy their silence over alleged affairs.
American Media Inc. (AMI), the publisher of the National Enquirer tabloid, has acknowledged covertly assisting Trump by paying former Playboy model Karen McDougal for the rights to her story over the alleged affair and then not publishing it.
As part of a non-prosecution agreement, the publisher has stated that the payment was done in concert with the Trump campaign.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing, claiming on Twitter and in a television interview Thursday with Fox News that he never directed Cohen to break the law. Trump asserted that his former attorney lied in order to get a better prison sentence.
In Friday’s interview, Cohen said that Trump played a hands-on role.
“Nothing at the Trump organization was ever done unless it was run through Mr. Trump,” Cohen said. “He directed me to make the payments, he directed me to become involved in these matters.”
Cohen said Trump worked out the details of the payment to McDougal with AMI’s CEO David Pecker and his counsel.
“I just reviewed the documents,” Cohen said.
When pressed on Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, Cohen said the president was being similarly untruthful in his ongoing blanket denials of any wrongdoing.
Cohen has previously sat down for interviews with Mueller’s office and his attorneys used those meetings to argue for no jail time.
Despite being sentenced to 36 months, the man who said in an 2017 interview that he would take a bullet for Trump said he still is willing to talk.
“I am here and I am willing to answer whatever additional questions that they may have for me,” Cohen said.
President Donald Trump has not yet publicly reacted to Cohen’s interview, but White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley dismissed it during an exchange with reporters outside the West Wing.
“He’s a self-admitted liar,” Gidley said. “You guys all know that and for him to say, ‘I’m going to start — I’m going to stop lying starting now,’ is somewhat silly.”