Donald Trump on Michael Cohen: What a Difference 4 Months Makes

Donald Trump on Michael Cohen: What a Difference 4 Months Makes

The verdict was part of a stunning one-two punch of bad news for the White House, coming as the president's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, was pleading guilty in NY to campaign finance charges arising from hush money payments made to two women who say they had sex with Trump.

"It's not even a campaign violation", Trump said.

In a morning tweet, Mr Trump said: "I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family". In the tax evasion scheme linked to his taxi medallion business, Cohen failed to report more than $4 million in income, according to the criminal information filed against him, resulting in his avoidance of more than $1.4 million in taxes he would have had to owe the Internal Revenue Service.

Watch above, via Fox News. If the money given to the women was created to shield him from embarrassment during his run for office, which would make it a campaign expense, the payoffs wouldn't necessarily have been improper if the funds came directly from Trump and were reported in required filings with the Federal Election Commission. He said that he did it at the behest of the candidate - that is to say then-candidate, now-President Trump. "And they didn't come out of the campaign, and that's big". A source familiar with the violation described it as "a pretty low level thing", that was "more of a paperwork error", noting that the error was fairly benign but the fine was large given the amount of money the campaign took in. The President in this matter has done nothing wrong.

The Cohen investigation was referred to the Southern District of NY by special counsel Robert Mueller.

In another case involving a former Trump associate, his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, awaited the outcome of his trial in Alexandria, Virginia, on 18 counts of financial crimes resulting from the Mueller probe.

The probe also led to a referral from Mueller about Cohen to federal prosecutors in NY who began their own probe of the longtime Trump lawyer. Cohen claimed the campaign law crimes were carried out at the direction of Trump to cover up affairs with the women and influence the 2016 election. But Cohen said Tuesday that Trump repaid him the money for the objective of influencing the campaign.

But Sanders brushed off both the Cohen plea and the Manafort conviction.

Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka Trump working with former campaign manager Paul Manafort in October 2017
Camera Icon Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka Trump working with former campaign manager Paul Manafort in October

Mr. Trump also said in his interview with "Fox & Friends" that he did not believe that the press was the enemy of the people, but he does think that the majority of the media is biased.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders briefs the press today and then takes questions.

Trump critics have argued the case being made by the President that the payments to Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal were personal do not hold up given the timing - only weeks before the election.

Trump defended Manafort, praising him in another tweet as "a courageous man".

And he sought to discredit Cohen - contrasting his actions with those of Manafort, whom he called "such a fearless man".

The verdict came after four days of deliberations during which the panel of six men and six women indicated it had difficulty reaching a consensus on 10 counts.

Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California, a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said in a statement: "The factual basis of the plea, potentially implicating the president in illegal campaign finance violations, adds to the president's legal jeopardy".

It is a refrain Sanders repeated a half dozen times over the course of the 21-minute briefing, her first since Tuesday's stunning legal developments and her hundredth overall as Trump's top spokeswoman. There would presumably be no bar against charging a president after he leaves the White House.

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