Trump Says Ex-Lawyer's Hush Money Payments to Women Were Just 'Simple Private' Transactions

In a series of misspelled tweets, Trump said that he believed the payments were wrongly being called a "campaign contribution"

Trump, Bedminster, USA - 20 Nov 2016
Photo: Carolyn Kaster/AP/REX/Shutterstock

As usual, Donald Trump doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong.

On Monday morning, the president fired off a series of tweets in which he disputed claims that the hush money payments his former lawyer Michael Cohen gave to Trump’s alleged mistresses were a “campaign contribution.”

In a set of misspelled tweets, Trump piggybacked off of a recent Fox News report about how “Democrats can’t find a Smocking Gun tying the Trump campaign to Russia after James Comey’s testimony.”

Echoing a claim he had made many times before, Trump remarked, “That’s because there was NO COLLUSION” adding, “So now the Dems go to a simple private transaction, wrongly call it a campaign contribution…which it was not.”

In August, Cohen pled guilty to eight criminal counts, including tax fraud, false statements to a bank, and campaign finance violations related to his work for Trump. He also pled guilty to one count of making false statements to Congress in November.

Cohen previously confessed that he had directed payments ahead of the 2016 election to two women who claim to have had affairs with Trump, porn star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal. (Trump has denied the affairs.) According to the New York Times, Cohen told a judge in United States District Court in Manhattan that the payments to the women were made “in coordination with and at the direction of a candidate for federal office,” adding, “I participated in this conduct, which on my part took place in Manhattan, for the principal purpose of influencing the election” in 2016.

Mark Wilson/Getty; SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty; Gabe Ginsberg/Getty

Also on Monday, Trump claimed that if payments were determined to represent a campaign contribution, it would only warrant a civil case, not a criminal one, “like Obama’s.”

The Tweet referenced a $375,000 fine levied at Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign for a variety of campaign reporting violations, which included not disclosing all large donations and not reporting all contribution dates correctly.

However, Trump insisted that the hush money payments were “done correctly,” and that it was Cohen’s “liability if he made a mistake, not me.”

Echoing a claim he has made before, Trump accused his former lawyer of lying in order “to get his sentence reduced,” and described the entire Russia probe as a “WITCH HUNT!”

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On Monday morning, CNN reported that at least 16 Trump associates had contact with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign. The type of “contact” includes face-to-face meetings, phone calls, texts, emails and video chats, the outlet said, adding that all individuals have denied any contact with Russians.

On the list of 16 associates was Cohen, who also signed a plea agreement at the end of November stating that he had lied to Congress regarding a real estate deal Trump was pursuing with Russia during the presidential election.

On Friday, prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office recommended that Cohen, despite all of his assistance in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, receive “a substantial term of imprisonment, one that reflects a modest downward variance from the applicable guidelines range,” CNN reported.

Cohen is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 12.

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