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Michael Cohen: Trump directed hush payments to help his campaign

Michael Cohen, speaking in an interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos following his sentencing, insists that President Trump knew about the hush money he gave to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, and that Trump asked Cohen to make the payments to help his 2016 presidential campaign.

The big picture: Trump, who originally denied knowledge of the payments before changing his tune, claims he never directed Cohen to make the payments and never asked him to break the law. But Cohen told Stephanopoulos that "nothing at the Trump organization was ever done unless it was run through Mr. Trump," and that the payments were arranged because Trump was "very concerned about how [the allegations] would affect the election."

Why it matters: If Cohen is right, then Trump also violated campaign finance law.

  • Cohen told Stephanopoulos that despite lying on behalf of Trump for years, he should be believed now because special counsel Robert Mueller's team has "a substantial amount of information ... that corroborates the fact that I am telling the truth."
  • When asked if he believes Trump is telling the truth about things related to the Russia investigation, Cohen responded: "No."
  • Cohen also said he doesn't recognize Trump now that he's president:
Quote"He's a very different individual. I think the pressure of the job is much more than what he thought it was going to be. It's not like the Trump organization ... There's a system here; he doesn't understand the system and it's sad because the country has never been more divisive."
— Cohen on President Trump, to ABC

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