Administration

Trump denies having prior knowledge of Cohen hush-money payments

President Trump on Wednesday falsely claimed that hush money payments arranged by his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, did not break the law and denied he had knowledge of them at the time.  

"My first question when I heard about it was, 'did they come out of the campaign?' Because that could be a little dicey. But they didn't come out of the campaign and that's big," Trump said during an interview with "Fox & Friends" host Ainsley Earhardt. 

"It's not even a campaign violation," added Trump.

Cohen pleaded guilty to eight felony charges, including two counts of violating campaign finance law by arranging the payments involving two women who say they had affairs with Trump.  

Trump's onetime lawyer implicated the president in the crime, saying he set up the payments at the direction of the then-Republican nominee in order to help his 2016 campaign by keeping the allegations silent. 

The president pushed back on that claim by saying he found out about the arrangements "later on." 

But that claim has been undercut by a secret recording Cohen released last month that contains a conversation with Trump about how they would purchase the story of former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who says she had an affair with Trump in 2006. 

He also asserted they did not break the law because "they weren't taken out of campaign finance," an apparent reference to his campaign's bank account, and were paid for with personal funds. But what Cohen described is known as an in-kind contribution on behalf of the Trump campaign. 

The amount of the payments exceeded contribution limits and went unreported at the time, according to prosecutors.

Updated 2:13 p.m.

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