Stormy hush money came from me, says defiant Trump
Contradicts his former lawyer, who admits breaking the law over payments to porn star and Playboy model
Donald Trump has denied hush-money payments made to two women claiming affairs before the 2016 US election were illegal, insisting they had not come from campaign funds.
Trump admitted on Wednesday that the payments to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal to buy their silence “came from me” but dismissed suggestions of wrongdoing.
The account contradicts that of Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney, who pleaded guilty to breaking campaign finance laws over the payments on Tuesday. Cohen claimed in court that he had facilitated both payments at the “direction” of Trump and that it was an attempt to “influence” the 2016 election, buying the women’s silence before the vote.The allegation – effectively implicating Trump in a crime – triggered a firestorm in Washington, with congressmen asked whether a sitting president could be indicted and whether they would begin impeachment proceedings.
However, Trump and the White House insisted the president had done nothing wrong, and called into question Cohen’s motives.
Trump suggested on Twitter that Cohen had decided to “make up stories” to secure a deal with prosecutors and reduce his jail sentence.Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, said: “The president has done nothing wrong, there are no charges against him.”
At the core of the dispute are two payments made to women alleging affairs with Trump before the election. Daniels received $130,000 and McDougal received $150,000. He denies the affairs.
Cohen admitted that the payments broke campaign finance laws and he pleaded guilty, saying the payments were an attempt to “influence” the 2016 election. Trump’s position on the payments has changed a number of times since they became public. First he denied knowledge of them, then his lawyer Rudy Giuliani admitted they were made.
Speaking to Fox News yesterday, Trump gave his fullest response yet to Cohen, admitting the money eventually came from him but denying anything illegal had taken place.
Trump said of the payments: “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 didn’t come out of the campaign, they came from me.”
Trump said he learnt of the payments “later on”, casting doubt on exactly when he became aware the money had been paid to the women.Tuesday was described as the most significant day of Trump’s presidency by commentators because two figures closely linked to him were convicted within minutes of each other. Cohen, who worked as Trump’s lawyer and fixer for a decade, admitted eight charges – five relating to unpaid tax, one relating to a house loan, and two relating to campaign finance laws. He faces more than five years in jail.
Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, was found guilty of eight charges of tax and bank fraud. He faces up to 80 years in jail.
Cohen appears to be open to a plea deal. Lanny Davis, his lawyer, said his client had information that “should be of interest” to Robert Mueller, the man leading the Russian investigation. By contrast, Manafort, who faces spending the rest of his life in jail, has refused to seek a plea agreement.
Discussing both cases, Trump wrote on Twitter: “I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family. ‘Justice’ took a 12 year old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him and, unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to ‘break’ – make up stories in order to get a ‘deal’, Such respect for a brave man! Michael Cohen plead[ed] guilty to two counts of campaign finance violations that are not a crime. President Obama had a big campaign finance violation and it was easily settled!”That comment appeared to reference a $375,000 fine on the 2008 Obama campaign for failing to notify regulators of a series of donations.
The Democratic National Committee said last night it had thwarted an attempt to hack into a database containing information on tens of millions of voters across the US. In a sophisticated attack, a fake login page was created in a bid to harvest usernames and passwords, and gain access to the database. It was not clear who was responsible for the attack.
– © The Daily Telegraph