December 13, 2018
President said he is off the hook for any crime because he acted on ‘advice of counsel’ and ex-lawyer is ‘supposed to know the law’
Trump denies he directed Michael Cohen to break the law
Donald Trump has denied directing his former lawyer and fixer to break the law, a day after Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison for crimes committed while working for Trump.
“I never directed Michael Cohen to break the law. He was a lawyer and he is supposed to know the law,” the president said in a tweet Thursday morning.
Cohen, who spent years as one of Trump’s right-hand men, pleaded guilty to federal crimes including making illegal payments to two women who say they had sexual encounters with Trump, in order to keep them quiet about the alleged affairs.
He said, and prosecutors and a judge have also agreed, that he acted “in coordination and at the direction of” Trump and in order to influence the 2016 presidential election in Trump’s favor.
Trump also claimed that because he acted on “advice of counsel”, he is off the hook for any crime. “A lawyer has great liability if a mistake is made. That is why they get paid,” he wrote.
Cohen, 52, admitted in August that on the eve of the 2016 presidential election he made a $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels and arranged for a $150,000 payment to former Playboy model Karen McDougal. He pleaded guilty to eight federal crimes, and later pleaded guilty to an additional count of lying to Congress.
The lawyer said he acted out of “blind loyalty to Donald Trump” and “felt it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds”.
Trump has variously claimed that he didn’t know about the payments, that they were not illegal, and that even if they were illegal they should have been treated as a civil matter.
Before the sentencing, he called for Cohen to serve a full sentence in prison.

On Thursday, Trump insisted that Cohen was guilty of several of the crimes he admitted – which included tax evasion and lying to a bank – but not guilty of the campaign finance crimes, despite his plea.
“Cohen 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 bases,” wrote.
“Those charges were just agreed to by him in order to embarrass the president and get a much reduced prison sentence, which he did-including the fact that his family was temporarily let off the hook. As a lawyer, Michael has great liability to me!”
Cohen is cooperating with authorities, and special counsel Robert Mueller’s office has said he provided valuable information for their probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election and the possibility of collusion with members of Trump’s campaign.
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