Trump: Cohen 'did more public relations than he did law'

President TrumpDonald John TrumpUS reimposes UN sanctions on Iran amid increasing tensions Jeff Flake: Republicans 'should hold the same position' on SCOTUS vacancy as 2016 Trump supporters chant 'Fill that seat' at North Carolina rally MORE on Thursday asserted that his former attorney Michael Cohen was a "low-level" employee who did limited legal work. Trump sought to distance himself from his longtime associate a day after Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison.

"He did very low-level work," Trump said in an interview with Fox News. "He did more public relations than he did law. You would see him on television, and he was OK on television."


The comments appeared to undercut Trump's argument made hours earlier on Twitter, and during the same Fox News interview, that Cohen "was a lawyer" and as a result "has great liability" for campaign finance law violations committed on Trump's behalf.

"He’s a lawyer," Trump told Harris Faulkner of Fox News. "A lawyer who represents a client is supposed to do the right thing. That’s why you pay them a lot of money."

Asked why he hired Cohen in the first place, Trump pointed to a favor from "years ago" when Cohen was on a condominium committee that oversaw the approval of Trump World Tower in Manhattan.

"I thought he was a great guy. I thought he was really a nice guy," Trump said. "He was really supportive, and I liked him, and he was a lawyer, and because of that I did it. And you know what, in retrospect, I made a mistake."

Cohen was sentenced Wednesday for multiple federal crimes he had pleaded guilty to, including bank fraud, tax fraud and campaign finance law violations he said he committed at Trump's direction when he paid two women to keep quiet about alleged affairs with the president.

At his sentencing, Cohen said he took "full responsibility for each act that I pled guilty to, the personal ones to me and those involving the president of the United States of America."

On Thursday, Trump said he did not direct Cohen to break the law, and argued that Cohen's misdeeds were "all unrelated" to him other than the campaign finance violations, which the president insisted were not criminal.

"They put that on to embarrass me," Trump said of the campaign finance-related charges.

Trump has slammed Cohen as "weak," and claimed he's lied to secure a better deal with prosecutors. The president has additionally argued that if the campaign violations were criminal, Cohen would bear the liability as his lawyer.

Cohen, a longtime employee of the Trump Organization who once said he would take a bullet for the president, has been ensnared in legal troubles since earlier this year, when the FBI raided his home, apartment and office in New York.

After pleading guilty to charges in Manhattan in August, Cohen began cooperating with special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The special counsel's office said in a filing last week that he has provided "useful information" relevant to the investigation's core issues.