Ex-Trump lawyer: Hush money paid over election concerns
President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer says he bought the silence of two women
Donald Trump's long-time personal lawyer said on Friday that the US president directed him to buy the silence of two women during the 2016 campaign because he was concerned about how their stories of alleged affairs would affect the election.
Michael Cohen, a key player in Mr Trump’s business organisation for more than a decade, said he “gave loyalty to someone who, truthfully, does not deserve loyalty.”
Cohen said on an interview with US network ABC that Mr Trump knew it was wrong to make the hush-money payments.
US law requires that any payments made “for the purposes of influencing” an election must be reported in campaign finance disclosures.
"I am done with the lying," he said. "I am done being loyal to President Trump."
He added: "I will not be the villain of this story."
Cohen was sentenced on Wednesday to three years in prison after pleaded guilty to several charges, including campaign finance violations and lying to Congress.
Prosecutors said Mr Trump directed Cohen to arrange the payments to buy the silence of porn actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal in the run-up to the 2016 campaign.
The decision to pay off Ms Daniels, who alleged she had sex with a married Mr Trump in 2006, came amid concerns about how it would affect the election, Cohen said.
Mr Trump has denied directing Cohen to break the law and has asserted in a barrage of tweets over the last several weeks that Cohen is a "liar" who cut a deal in order to get a reduced prison sentence and to help himself and his family.
Loyalty has long been a core value for Trump, who has been stung by the behaviour of Cohen and other former associates who have dissociated themselves from the president, intent on saving themselves.
That list also includes former White House staffer Omarosa Manigault Newman and former National Security adviser Michael Flynn.
"He knows the truth. I know the truth. Others know the truth," Cohen said.
"And here is the truth: People of the United States of America, people of the world, don't believe what he is saying. The man doesn't tell the truth. And it is sad that I should take responsibility for his dirty deeds."
Updated: December 14, 2018 06:44 PM