Hatch after Cohen plea deal: 'I think Trump is a much better person today than he was then'
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Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchThe FDA crackdown on dietary supplements is inadequate Orrin Hatch Foundation seeking million in taxpayer money to fund new center in his honor Mitch McConnell has shown the nation his version of power grab MORE (R-Utah) said he thinks President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff urges GOP colleagues to share private concerns about Trump publicly US-China trade talks draw criticism for lack of women in pictures Overnight Defense: Trump to leave 200 troops in Syria | Trump, Kim plan one-on-one meeting | Pentagon asks DHS to justify moving funds for border wall MORE is a “much better person today” than he was in his past, one day after his former longtime lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to eight counts of fraud and campaign finance violations and implicated the president in a felony.

“Eight years ago to 10 years ago, Trump was not what I consider to be a pillar of virtue,” Hatch, the Senate’s senior Republican member, told The New York Times in an interview published Wednesday. “I think he has changed a lot of his life once he was elected. I think Trump is a much better person today than he was then.”

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Hatch’s remarks come shortly after Cohen pleaded guilty to charges of bank fraud, tax fraud and campaign finance law violations in a New York courtroom on Tuesday. Cohen said he broke campaign finance laws "in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office," indirectly referencing the president.

Cohen pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance law — consequently, implicating the president in a felony — by making payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal in efforts to keep their allegations of past affairs Trump quiet in the months leading up to the 2016 election.

Cohen's guilty plea came minutes before Trump's former campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortWhite House braces for Mueller report Hillicon Valley: Trump pushes to speed up 5G rollout | Judge hits Roger Stone with full gag order | Google ends forced arbitration | Advertisers leave YouTube after report on pedophile ring Manafort to be sentenced for bank, tax fraud in Virginia on March 8 MORE was found guilty on eight charges of bank and tax fraud by a jury in Virginia. 

“I think most people in this country realize that Donald Trump comes from a different world. He comes from New York City, he comes from a slam-bang, difficult world,” Hatch told the Times.

“It is amazing he is as good as he is. If anything, you have to give him plaudits for the way he has run the country as president,” he added.

The president has accused Cohen of making up stories to "get a 'deal'" and said in a tweet that he has "such respect" for Manafort because he did not "break" like Cohen by providing prosecutors with damaging information. 

The White House also defended Trump in his past dealings with Cohen, saying that he "did nothing wrong" in efforts to counter the lawyer's claim that Trump conspired with him to violate campaign-finance law.