Trump says ex-lawyer’s hush payments ‘not even a campaign violation’

Trump’s once-close associate Michael Cohen. (AFP pic)

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump claimed on Wednesday that hush payments made by his former lawyer before the 2016 election did not breach campaign finance rules.

Trump’s once-close associate Michael Cohen pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to six counts of fraud, and two counts of violating campaign finance laws — by making payments to silence women who alleged affairs with Trump.

But in an interview with news show “Fox and Friends” about the payments, Trump insisted: “It’s not even a campaign violation.”

“They didn’t come out of the campaign, they came from me and I tweeted about it,” Trump said.

In a serious blow to the president, Cohen detailed in court how he made the payments — believed to be porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal — and claimed he was acting at his boss’s request.

Trump has repeatedly denied having any knowledge of the payments at the time, while accepting they were made using his funds — to which Cohen had access.

“Later on I knew,” Trump reiterated in the interview.

Trump went on to highlight a campaign reporting violation settled by his predecessor for US$375,000 after the 2008 election.

“If you look at President Obama, he had a massive campaign violation but he had a different attorney general and they viewed it a lot differently,” Trump said.