This morning, Cohen has gave a new interview to ABC News that deals a big blow to Trump’s defense that Trump never directed Cohen to break any laws when he arranged the deal with AMI to payoff Karen McDougal. According to Trump. it was on Cohen to fix the problem legally. If Cohen failed in this regard, that’s on him.
First, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos got Cohen to state clearly that in directing payments designed to silence women who alleged affairs with him, Trump both knew he was engaged in wrongdoing and consciously understood that he directed the payments on behalf of his presidential candidacy:
STEPHANOPOULOS: He’s saying very clearly that he never directed you to do anything wrong. Is that true?
COHEN: I don’t think there’s anybody that believes that. First of all, nothing at the Trump Organization was ever done unless it was run through Mr. Trump. He directed me … to make the payments. He directed me to become involved in these matters.[…]
STEPHANOPOULOS: And he knew it was wrong?
COHEN: Of course.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And he was doing that to help his election?
COHEN: Yeah. You remember, at what point in time that this matter came about, two weeks or so before the election, post-Billy Bush comments. So yes, he was very concerned about how this would affect the election.
STEPHANOPOULOS: To help his campaign.
COHEN: To help him and the campaign.
Stephanopoulos then asked him about a tweet in which Trump explained why Cohen had agreed to the plea deal. “Those charges were just agreed to in order to embarrass the president and get a much reduced prison sentence.”
I know which tweets you are talking about. First of all, it is absolutely not true. I did not do it to embarrass the president. He knows the truth. I know the truth, many people know the truth. Under no circumstances do I want to embarrass the president of the United States of America. The truth is, I told the truth. I took responsibility for my actions. And instead of him taking responsibility for his actions, what does he do? He attacks my family. And after yesterday, again being before the court and taking the responsibility and receiving a sentence of 36 months, the only thing he could do is to tweet about my family?
Stephanopoulos asked Cohen about Trump’s remark that “you are lying about him to protect your wife, to protect your father in-law.”
Inaccurate. He knows the truth, I know the truth, others know the truth, and here is the truth: The people of the United States of America, people of the world, don’t believe what he is saying. The man doesn’t tell the truth. And it is sad that I should take responsibility for his dirty deeds.
When asked about his part in the wrongdoing, Cohen answered:
I am angry at myself because I knew what I was doing was wrong. I stood up before the world yesterday and I accepted the responsibility for my actions. The actions that I gave to a man, who, as I also said in my allocution, I was loyal to. I should not be the only one taking responsibility for his actions.
It was a blind loyalty. It was to a man I admired, but I do not know the answer to it. And I am angry at myself. My family is disappointed that they’ve taught me, my mother, father, right from wrong. And I didn’t display good judgment.
Cohen told Stephanopoulos that Trump has changed since he became President.
I think the pressure of the job is much more than what he thought it was going to be. It’s not like the Trump organization where he would bark out orders and people would blindly follow what he wanted done. There’s a system here, he doesn’t understand the system, and it’s sad because the country has never been more divisive. And one of the hopes that I have out of the punishment that I’ve received, as well as the cooperation that I have given, I will be remembered in history as helping to bring this country back together.
When asked if he believed the President was telling the truth, Cohen said no.
Finally Stephanopoulos asked, “If he were sitting in this chair right now, what would you say to him?”
Cohen responded, “Lay off Twitter, run the country the way that we all thought that you would, be able to take the Democrats, Republicans, bring them together and bring the country together instead of dividing the country.”
So, no real surprises in there. It certainly didn’t change anything for Trump one way or the other. So much for taking a bullet for Donald Trump.
The full transcript can be found here.