Trump insists hush payments by Cohen were legal

Donald Trump, U.S President

US President Donald Trump has insisted that payments to two women who say he had affairs with them did not break election campaign rules.

It comes after his ex-lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to violating laws during the 2016 presidential election over his handling of the hush money.

Interviewed by Fox & Friends, Mr Trump said the payments had come from him personally, not from the campaign.

He has in the past denied knowing about one of the payments altogether.

Mr Trump also accused Cohen of making up stories to receive a lighter sentence.

What Trump said
In an excerpt from the Fox & Friends interview, which will be aired in full on Thursday, Mr Trump responded to questions about the hush payments by insisting that they were “not a campaign violation”.

“They came from me,” he said. “And I tweeted about it. But they did not come out of the campaign.”

He said he had only found out about the payments “later on”.

His comments contradict a statement made earlier by Cohen under oath in which he said the president had instructed him to make the payments.

In July, Cohen released audio tapes of him and Mr Trump allegedly discussing one of the payments before the election.

Payments break campaign rules
Cohen, who was Mr Trump’s personal lawyer for more than a decade, admitted passing on funds to two women thought to be porn star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal.

The hush money payments were not reported to the Federal Election Commission during the campaign.

The question is whether the payments were made to protect Mr Trump’s personal reputation or to protect his image as a presidential candidate.

Under US election rules, any payments made with the aim of influencing a vote must be reported.