President Donald Trump on Thursday continued to insist he’s innocent of wrongdoing in connection with the crimes for which Michael Cohen, his former lawyer, was sentenced Wednesday by a New York federal judge to prison for three years.
Cohen pleaded guilty to several charges, including violations of campaign finance laws and his role in paying hush money on Trump’s behalf to adult film star and former Playboy model Karen McDougal.
On Twitter the president wrote: “I never directed Michael Cohen to break the law. He was a lawyer and he is supposed to know the law. It is called “advice of counsel,” and a lawyer has great liability if a mistake is made.”
Trump further said, “Cohen was guilty on many charges unrelated to me, but he plead to two campaign charges which were not criminal and of which he probably was not guilty even on a civil basis.”
Former chairman of the Federal Election Commission Bradley Smith argued in the National Review that the payments to cover up a sex scandal were “clearly not campaign expenditures” and there was “no violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act.”
Smith, quoting the statutory language, said the money was for “personal use,” which means “used to fulfill any commitment, obligation, or expense of a person that would exist irrespective of the candidate’s election campaign.”
In sentencing Cohen, U.S. District Judge William Pauley said the attorney committed a“veritable smorgasbord of fraudulent conduct” motivated by “personal greed and ambition,” adding that the crimes required “specific deterrence.”