Michael Cohen says Trump knew hush money payments were wrong

President Donald Trump knew it was wrong to direct his then-attorney Michael Cohen to make payments to silence a pair of women who claimed they had sexual affairs with Trump ahead of the 2016 presidential election, Cohen said Friday in a televised interview.

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Cohen, 52, told ABC's "Good Morning America" that Trump ordered him to pay adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy playmate Karen McDougal because "he was very concerned about how this would affect the election."

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“He directed me to become involved in these matters,” Cohen said. “I just reviewed the documents ... in order to protect him. I gave loyalty to someone who truthfully does not deserve loyalty.”

Cohen said that although he also knew what he was doing was wrong, he was fueled by “blind loyalty… to a man I admired.”

"I am done with lying," Cohen told ABC's George Stephanopoulos. "I am done being loyal to President Trump, and my first loyalty belongs to my wife, my daughter, my son and this country."

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Cohen, who once famously said he’d take a bullet for Trump, was sentenced Wednesday to serve three years in prison followed by three years of supervised release after he pleaded guilty earlier this year to several charges, including multiple counts of tax evasion, lying to Congress and arranging illicit payments to silence Daniels and McDougal. Federal law requires that any payments made “for the purposes of influencing” an election must be reported in campaign finance disclosures.

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Cohen negotiated a $130,000 payment to Daniels in October 2016 in exchange for her signing a nondisclosure agreement barring her from talking about an alleged sexual encounter she had with Trump in 2006, The Wall Street Journal reported in January.

Trump initially denied having any knowledge of the transaction, although he admitted in April that Cohen had represented him “with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal.”

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Cohen told "Good Morning America" that the decision to pay Daniels was made after a video from a 2005 taping of "Access Hollywood" surfaced in which Trump could be heard making derogatory comments about women.

The hush money wasn’t initially reported on campaign finance documents and, in any case, far exceeded the legally acceptable amount for in-kind contributions. The federal limit on individual contributions is $2,700.

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McDougal claimed she had a nearly yearlong affair with the president in 2006 and 2007. The rights to her story were bought in August 2016 by American Media Inc., the company that publishes the National Enquirer, The Wall Street Journal reported, but her story was never published.

Federal prosecutors in New York said in a statement Wednesday that American Media Inc. officials admitted to paying McDougal $150,000 “in concert with a candidate’s presidential campaign and in order to ensure that the woman did not publicize damaging allegations about the candidate before the 2016 presidential election.” The company previously reached a non-prosecution agreement with prosecutors.

Prosecutors with special counsel Robert Mueller’s office, who are investigating Russian election meddling and its possible ties to Trump and his campaign officials, said in court Wednesday that Cohen has provided “credible information” related to the probe.

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Cohen told "Good Morning America" that if the special counsel's office has additional questions for him, "I am here, and I am willing to answer."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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