Trump argues he ‘never directed’ longtime fixer to break law

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump claimed Thursday that he “never directed” his longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen, to break the law. And he’s insisting that he “did nothing wrong.”

Trump’s comments — in an interview with Fox News Channel’s Harris Faulkner and several morning tweets — came a day after Cohen was sentenced to prison for crimes including arranging hush money payments to conceal Trump’s alleged affairs to help his 2016 White House bid, a campaign finance violation. Cohen and federal prosecutors say the payments were made at Trump’s direction.

Trump, in the Fox interview, insisted the campaign finance charges Cohen pleaded guilty to are “not criminal” and were included solely to “embarrass him.”

And he said he’d “made a mistake” hiring Cohen years ago.

Earlier, Trump tweeted that Cohen “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.”

Trump had originally denied any knowledge of the payments, but later changed his tune, arguing that the payments weren’t campaign contributions and therefore weren’t illegal.

Prosecutors have implicated Trump in a crime, but haven’t directly accused him of one.

Trump also suggested, without providing evidence, that Cohen cooperated with prosecutors to kept his father-in-law or wife out of trouble and adds that, “In retrospect,” he “made a mistake” by hiring Cohen.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.