In a new interview, President Donald Trump said he respects former campaign chairman Paul Manafort for not "flipping" like his former attorney Michael Cohen.
Manafort was convicted on financial charges Tuesday while that same day Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations and implicated Trump. The president said the campaign charges against Cohen were flimsy, but because he had committed other infractions unrelated to Trump, he had reason to lie.
Trump said "flipping" in this way should be illegal and told "Fox & Friends" host Ainsley Earhardt that Cohen was just doing it because prosecutors gave him a "great deal."
"He makes a better deal if he uses me," Trump said about Cohen. "One of the reasons I respect Paul Manafort so much is because he went through that trial. You know, they make up stories."
"This whole thing about flipping, they call it, I know all about flipping," he went on. "For 30, 40 years I’ve been watching flippers. Everything's wonderful and then they get 10 years in jail and they flip on whoever the next highest one is, or as high as you can go. It almost ought to be outlawed; it’s not fair."
He said campaign violations are "not a big deal, frankly" but the threat of prosecution incentivized Cohen to "make up lies" to get a better plea deal.
"It’s called flipping and it almost ought to be illegal," Trump said. "You get 10 years in jail, but if you say bad things about somebody, in other words make up stories if you don't know—they just make up lies."
Trump also defended himself in the interview against the charge that Cohen’s payments constituted a crime on Trump’s part, owing to the fact that he reimbursed Cohen. The president’s former attorney and fixer paid two women, who were alleging they had affairs with Trump, to remain silent.
Trump has stood by Manafort and insisted Russian collusion has nothing to do with those convictions, which have to do with Manafort’s financial dealings before Trump ran for president.