Donald Trump says Cohen case is an attempt ‘to embarrass me’

December 13, 2018 GMT

President Trump said Thursday that federal prosecutors added campaign-finance violations in the case against former lawyer Michael Cohen “to embarrass” him.

“They put those two charges on to embarrass me,” Mr. Trump told Fox News host Harris Faulkner. “They’re not criminal charges. I did nothing wrong.”

Cohen was sentenced Wednesday to three years in federal prison for tax evasion and for violating campaign-finance law by paying hush money before the 2016 election to two women who allege affairs with Mr. Trump. He told the court that Mr. Trump directed him to make the illegal payments.

The president rejected that argument forcefully.

“I never directed him to do anything wrong,” Mr. Trump said. “Whatever he did, he did on his own. He’s a lawyer. He did some bad things unrelated to me. In order to embarrass me, he cut a deal.”

Mr. Trump speculated that Cohen made a deal to spare his family members from unspecified legal trouble. He also said that the campaign finance issue is “a civil matter,” akin to President Obama’s campaign finance violations in 2008 which incurred a record fine from the Federal Election Commission.

“Nobody except for me would be looked at like this,” he said. “President Obama had a really big one. He paid a fine.”

The president also argued that Congress has used a “slush fund” to pay staffers who allege sexual harassment, and those payments have never been considered illegal campaign contributions to benefit lawmakers’ careers.

“Have they listed that on their campaign finance sheets? No,” he said.