President Donald Trump maintained the felony counts Michael Cohen admitted to were not actual crimes in an interview aired Thursday.
“What Michael Cohen pled to weren’t crimes,” Trump told Fox News.
Cohen, Trump’s longtime personal attorney, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to two felony campaign finance violations — making an excessive campaign contribution and causing an unlawful corporate contribution. Those are crimes. And he confessed to them under oath, saying he willfully violated those laws at Trump’s direction.
“He made a great deal. He was in another business totally unrelated to me where I guess there was fraud involved,” Trump said.
“A lot of lawyers on television and lawyers I have say they aren’t crimes,” Trump said on the campaign finance violations. “He makes a better deal when he uses me.”
Violations of campaign finance laws can be handled as a civil matter with the Federal Election Commission or as a criminal matter by the Justice Department. The violations become a criminal matter when those laws are broken in a “knowing and willful” manner, said Larry Noble, the former general counsel of the FEC who is now senior director at the Campaign Legal Center.
The President continued to downplay his relationship with Cohen Thursday.
“He worked for me, you could say more or less part time,” Trump said. ‘He had other clients.”