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article imageTrump says ex-lawyer's hush payments 'not even a campaign violation'

By AFP     Aug 22, 2018 in World

US President Donald Trump claimed Wednesday that hush payments made by his former lawyer before the 2016 election did not breach campaign finance rules.

Trump's once-close associate Michael Cohen pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to six counts of fraud, and two counts of violating campaign finance laws -- by making payments to silence women who alleged affairs with Trump.

But in an interview with news show "Fox and Friends" about the payments, Trump insisted: "It's not even a campaign violation."

"They didn't come out of the campaign, they came from me and I tweeted about it," Trump said.

In a serious blow to the president, Cohen detailed in court how he made the payments -- believed to be porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal -- and claimed he was acting at his boss's request.

Trump has repeatedly denied having any knowledge of the payments at the time, while accepting they were made using his funds -- to which Cohen had access.

"Later on I knew," Trump reiterated in the interview.

Trump went on to highlight a campaign reporting violation settled by his predecessor for $375,000 after the 2008 election.

"If you look at President Obama, he had a massive campaign violation but he had a different attorney general and they viewed it a lot differently," Trump said.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders later said Trump was not worried that Cohen might implicate the president if he cooperates with Russia probe special counsel Robert Mueller.

"I don't think the president is concerned at all," Sanders said, one day after Cohen pleaded guilty in US federal court to six counts of fraud and two counts of violating campaign finance laws.

"He knows that he did nothing wrong and that there was no collusion, and we're going to continue focusing on things that Americans care about and that we can have an impact on."

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