President Trump said in an interview with “Fox & Friends” that he found out about his former lawyer Michael Cohen’s payments to quiet politically damaging stories by two women before the 2016 election “later on.” Cohen pleaded guilty to eight counts, including two campaign finance violations, Tuesday.
In his guilty plea, Cohen suggested that he made payments at the direction of Mr. Trump to silence former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal and adult film star Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, who each claim to have had an affair with Mr. Trump. Cohen doled out $150,000 to American Media Inc. to purchase a McDougal’s story about the affair and bury it, and $130,000 to Daniels. Mr. Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, previously confirmed that Cohen was repaid by Mr. Trump. Cohen released a recording of a conversation with Mr. Trump about the payment to McDougal.
Mr. Trump confirmed that his campaign did not reimburse Cohen for the payments in the interview with “Fox & Friends” reporter Ainsley Earhart.
“They weren’t taken out of campaign finance, that’s a big thing,” Mr. Trump said. “They came from me and I tweeted about it.”
However, if Mr. Trump directed Cohen to make the payments on behalf of his campaign, then the president may be liable for accepting an illegal corporate contribution to his campaign. Cohen and, by extension, the Trump Organization, would have given the combined $280,000 as part of campaign activity without filing that payment, and corporations cannot donate directly to candidates.
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.
“The fake news is comprised of—it’s a lot, it’s a big chunk,” Mr. Trump said about the proportion of the media that he considers fake news. “Somebody said, “What’s the chunk?” I said, “80 percent.” It’s a lot.”
He also discussed the deportation of a former Nazi guard from the United States.
The full interview will air on “Fox & Friends” Thursday.