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White House's Sanders stonewalls at post-Cohen, Manafort briefing
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Wednesday stonewalled reporters who peppered her with questions about the guilty plea for President Trump's former lawyer and the conviction of his former campaign chairman.
Sanders pushed back forcefully against the notion that Trump's longtime lawyer Michael Cohen's plea deal implicated the president in an illegal campaign-finance scheme.
"He did nothing wrong. There are no charges against him," Sanders said of Trump.
It is a refrain Sanders repeated a half dozen times over the course of the 21-minute briefing, her first since Tuesday's stunning legal developments and her hundredth overall as Trump's top spokeswoman.
Cohen's decision to plead guilty to eight criminal charges, including campaign-finance violations, triggered many questions about Trump's legal and political exposure and raised new doubts about his credibility.
The longtime Trump lawyer said in a New York federal court that Trump directed him to arrange payments to women who said they had extramarital affairs with Trump to buy their silence ahead of the 2016 election, in order to boost his chances of winning.
But Sanders gave only canned responses to reporters who asked about Trump's apparent contradictions about his involvement in Cohen's activities.
When asked to explain why Trump told Fox News on Wednesday he only knew of payments arranged by Cohen "later on," despite audio recordings of Trump discussing them with Cohen, Sanders responded she has "commented on this pretty extensively."
She then repeated her refrain: "The president did nothing wrong. There are no charges against him. There is no collusion."
Sanders continued, saying that Trump did not lie to reporters aboard Air Force One in April when he denied any knowledge of the payments, but would not explain further how that was the case.
"The president has addressed this a number of times," she said.
Earlier, she called it a "ridiculous accusation" to say Trump has lied to the American people.
Sanders was also given the opportunity to deny that Trump had affairs with the two women for whom payments were arranged, adult-film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal.
But Sanders would only say "we have addressed this a number of times," referring back to past denials.
She referred questions about whether nondisclosure payments were made to other women to Trump's team of outside lawyers.
Sanders did take the chance to criticize Democrats who have raised the prospect of impeachment, calling it a "sad attempt" to win in the November midterm elections.
But later in the briefing, it became clear she had grown weary of questions about Cohen.
"I've addressed all I'm going to say on the Cohen issue," she told one reporter.