President Donald Trump said Wednesday his business conducted with former attorney Michael Cohen during the 2016 campaign does not constitute a campaign finance violation.
Trump sat down with "Fox & Friends" host Ainsley Earhardt for an exclusive interview to air in full Thursday, and he said payments to cover up alleged affairs did not come from the campaign. Cohen pleaded guilty Tuesday to campaign finance violations for paying two women claiming to have had affairs with Trump, but the president said he only found out about the payments afterward.
— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) August 22, 2018
"My first question when I heard about it was ‘did they come out of the campaign,' because that could be a little dicey, and they didn’t come out of the campaign. And that’s big," he said.
Trump referred to past tweets in which he said he paid Cohen with private funds and it had nothing to do with his presidential campaign.
"They weren’t taken out of campaign finance, that’s a big thing, that’s a much bigger thing. Did they come out of the campaign? They didn't come out of the campaign. They came from me, and I tweeted about it," he told Earhardt.
Critics contend Trump is misinterpreting the law and that the money paid to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal count as campaign contributions. Making an excessive campaign contribution is one of the counts Cohen pleaded guilty to.
Trump reiterated the situation with his campaign and Cohen was "not even a campaign violation" before comparing the situation to one faced by former President Barack Obama. He said Obama’s campaign violated campaign finance rules but was able to avoid serious consequences because of preferential treatment from the Justice Department.
"It’s not even a campaign violation. If you look at President Obama, he had a massive campaign violation, but he had a different attorney general and they viewed it a lot differently," Trump said.
Obama’s 2008 campaign was fined $375,000 for failing to provide a 48-hour notice for $1.8 million worth of contributions.