President Donald Trump on Thursday suggested that “flipping” to make a deal with prosecutors “almost ought to be outlawed,” and falsely claimed that his former personal attorney Michael Cohen’s crimes “weren’t crimes.”
In an interview with his favorite cable news show, “Fox & Friends,” that aired Thursday, Trump continued to lambaste Cohen, who pleaded guilty Tuesday to violating campaign finance laws at Trump’s direction.
The president tried to distance himself by downplaying Cohen as “one of many” lawyers who have worked for him, adding that Cohen worked only “part time.”
“You know, they always say ‘the lawyer,’ and then they like to add ‘the fixer,’” Trump said of Cohen. “Well, I don’t know if he was a fixer, I don’t know where that term came from. But he’s been a lawyer for me. Didn’t do big deals, did small deals. Not somebody who was with me that much.”
Trump added that “he was somebody who was with me for probably about 10 years.”
“He worked for me — you could really say it was more or less part time,” Trump continued. “He had other businesses. He had other clients. I’m not his only client.”
But when asked if he directed Cohen to make the 2016 payments to silence Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal in order to keep them from going public with alleged extramarital affairs, Trump pinned the blame on Cohen.
“He made the deals,” Trump said.
Trump falsely asserted that Cohen’s campaign finance violations “aren’t even a crime” and “weren’t campaign finance” — before pivoting to Cohen’s other charges outside of Trump’s campaign related to tax fraud and his taxicab business.
It was another example of Trump’s frequent tactic of trying to distance himself from former associates embroiled in scandal, such as former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, whose role Trump and White House officials have regularly tried to downplay.
A federal jury in Alexandria, Virginia, on Tuesday convicted Manafort for eight criminal counts related to tax fraud and money laundering, occurring nearly simultaneously to Cohen’s plea deal with federal prosecutors in New York.
In Thursday’s interview, Trump again tried to claim that Manafort — who served as his campaign chairman during a critical time in 2016 — barely worked for his campaign, and said that he “didn’t know Manafort well.”
Asked about Trump’s suggestion that “flipping” to make a deal with prosecutors should be a crime, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) seemed baffled.
“Uh, I have to think about that a little more. That’s, uh — I’ve never heard that argument before,” Cornyn told reporters on Capitol Hill.
Igor Bobic contributed reporting.