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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:
"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

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. sounds alarm on Ukraine

Conscripts line up at a Russian railway station yesterday before departing for Army service. Photo: Sergei Malgavko/TASS via Getty Images

The Biden administration is "deeply concerned" by new intelligence — detailed for Axios and other outlets — showing Russia stepping up preparations to invade Ukraine as soon as early 2022.

Why it matters: Most of this was known from public sources and satellite imagery, but the administration is sending a stronger signal by releasing specific details from the intelligence community.

CNN fires Chris Cuomo

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for CNN

CNN said Saturday evening it has fired one of its star anchors, Chris Cuomo, following new revelations from a legal review made by the company into Cuomo's involvement in the management of his brother's sexual harassment scandal.

Why it matters: Saturday's firing speaks to how much pressure CNN was under by employees and critics to address Cuomo's behavior.

Updated 4 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Electric car prices could go up before they come down

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The secret to affordable electric vehicles is cheaper batteries. But after years of falling prices, battery costs are now headed in the wrong direction.

Why it matters: Costlier batteries could drive up the price of electric vehicles — threatening the auto industry's transition away from fossil fuels, and, in turn, society's fight against climate change.