Trump says he didn't direct Michael Cohen to break the law

By Holly Rosenkrantz

/ CBS News

Michael Cohen sentenced to 3 years in prison

President Trump, in his first public reaction to the sentencing of his former fixer Michael Cohen, said in a series of tweets Thursday morning that he "never" directed him to break the law. That position contradicts federal prosecutors, who said in court Wednesday that Cohen paid hush money to "two women who threatened to go public with details of purported extramarital affairs, and Mr. Cohen admitted that he did so in coordination with and at the direction of Individual One," that is, Mr. Trump.

"He was a lawyer and he is supposed to know the law," Trump said in a tweet. "It is called 'advice of counsel,' and a lawyer has great liability if a mistake is made."

I never directed Michael Cohen to break the law. He was a lawyer and he is supposed to know the law. It is called “advice of counsel,” and a lawyer has great liability if a mistake is made. That is why they get paid. Despite that many campaign finance lawyers have strongly……

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 13, 2018

Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison for making false statements to Congress, tax evasion, and arranging payments during the 2016 election to silence women who claimed they had affairs with Mr. Trump. Cohen claimed he acted out of "blind loyalty" to the president, and he felt a "duty to cover up his dirty deeds."

In his tweets, Mr. Trump said that Cohen's crimes were unrelated to him. "He was guilty on many charges unrelated to me, but he plead to two campaign charges which were not criminal and of which he probably was not guilty even on a civil basis."

The president remained silent on the sentencing of his long-time fixer on the day it happened. At a public appearance Wednesday at the White House, he ignored shouted questions about Cohen.

First published on December 13, 2018

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