U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media before boarding Marine One. (Photographer: Olivier Douliery/Pool via Bloomberg)

Trump Says Cohen Was ‘Lying’ About Hush Payments in Testimony

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump said his former personal attorney Michael Cohen was “lying” when he testified that Trump ordered hush payments in violation of campaign finance laws to silence two women alleging extramarital affairs.

Trump added that Cohen’s testimony was “totally false” and accused his former lawyer of striking a deal to “achieve a lighter sentence” in an interview with the Associated Press Tuesday at the White House.

Cohen in August admitted he violated campaign finance laws before the 2016 election at Trump’s direction as he pleaded guilty to eight counts of tax fraud, false statements to a bank and campaign-finance violations.

While Cohen did not use the president’s name in court, his attorney confirmed that Cohen was referring to Trump when he said he helped facilitate hush money payments to two women and worked with a national tabloid to quash their stories. The details match publicly known information about allegations made by porn actress Stephanie Clifford, known by the stage name Stormy Daniels, and former Playboy model Karen McDougal.

Trump has denied having affairs with the women, and earlier Tuesday attacked Clifford in a post on Twitter, referring to her as “Horseface” and suggesting he would use a legal judgment against her to get her to reaffirm a letter -- which Clifford has said was prepared by Cohen as part of the hush payment -- denying the affair.

Asked in the AP interview Tuesday if it was appropriate to insult a woman’s appearance, Trump responded, “You can take it any way you want.”

Trump’s comment Tuesday was not the first time he has indicated Cohen, a longtime employee, was being untruthful about the payments. The president suggested in a tweet in August that Cohen had made “up stories in order to get a ‘deal’” from prosecutors. Trump also said the campaign finance violations didn’t amount to a crime.

Later, Trump suggested the practice of "flipping" low-level criminals by exchanging shorter sentences for testimony against others should end.

In an interview with Fox News, Trump said the practice of rewarding defendants for providing information on other criminals encouraged them to "make up stories" and said he had seen the practice repeatedly throughout his career.

"For 30 or 40 years I’ve been watching flippers,” Trump said in the Fox interview. “Everything’s wonderful then they get 10 years in jail and they flip on whoever the next highest one is or as high as you can go.”

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