Trump 'not concerned' about being impeached, defends payments to women

US President Donald Trump, who has criticised former personal attorney Michael Cohen and called for him to get a long sentence, said his ex-lawyer should have known the rules.
US President Donald Trump, who has criticised former personal attorney Michael Cohen and called for him to get a long sentence, said his ex-lawyer should have known the rules.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - United States President Donald Trump said on Tuesday (Dec 11) that he was not concerned he would get impeached and that payments made ahead of the 2016 election by his former personal attorney Michael Cohen to two women did not violate campaign finance laws.

"It's hard to impeach somebody who hasn't done anything wrong and who's created the greatest economy in the history of our country," Mr Trump told Reuters in an Oval Office interview.

"I'm not concerned, no. I think that the people would revolt if that happened," he said.

Court filings last week drew renewed attention to six-figure payments made during the 2016 campaign by Cohen to two women, one of whom was porn star Stormy Daniels, so they would not discuss their alleged affairs with the candidate, Mr Trump. Democrats in Congress said Mr Trump could face impeachment and jail time if the transactions violated campaign finance laws.

Cohen is scheduled to be sentenced on Wednesday in New York for his role in the payments to the women. Mr Trump has denied affairs with Ms Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, the other woman whom Cohen said was given hush money.

Prosecutors say the hush money payments violated campaign finance laws and were directed by Mr Trump himself to cover up affairs he had in 2006 and 2007.

Earlier this year, Mr Trump acknowledged repaying Cohen for US$130,000 (S$178,000) paid to Ms Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford. He previously disputed knowing anything about the payments.

 
 
 

Prosecutors last Friday sought prison time for Cohen, Mr Trump's self-proclaimed "fixer", for the payments, which they said were made in "coordination with and at the direction of" Mr Trump, as well as on charges of evading taxes and lying to Congress.

Mr Trump, who has criticised Cohen and called for him to get a long sentence, said his former lawyer should have known the rules.

"Michael Cohen is a lawyer. I assume he would know what he's doing," Mr Trump said when asked if he had discussed campaign finance laws with Cohen.

"Number one, it wasn't a campaign contribution. If it were, it's only civil, and even if it's only civil, there was no violation based on what we did. OK?"

Asked about prosecutors' assertions that a number of people who had worked for him met or had business dealings with Russians before and during his 2016 presidential campaign, Mr Trump said: "The stuff you're talking about is peanut stuff."

He then sought to turn the subject to his 2016 Democratic opponent.

"I haven't heard this, but I can only tell you this: Hillary Clinton - her husband got money, she got money, she paid money, why doesn't somebody talk about that?" Mr Trump said.