President Donald Trump and his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, are pointing fingers at each other over who is to blame for what prosecutors say was an illegal scheme during the 2016 election campaign to buy the silence of two women who say they had affairs with Trump. Cohen was sentenced to prison time Wednesday for his role in arranging the payments, acknowledging they violated campaign finance laws. He told the judge he acted on Trump’s orders. Trump tweeted Thursday that Cohen, as a lawyer, gave him bad advice about the legality of the deals.
Excerpt from Cohen’s statement to the judge:
“I have been living in a personal and mental incarceration ever since the fateful day that I accepted the offer to work for a famous real estate mogul whose business acumen I truly admired. In fact, I now know that there is little to be admired.
“I want to be clear. I blame myself for the conduct which has brought me here today, and it was my own weakness, and a blind loyalty to this man that led me to choose a path of darkness over light. It is for these reasons I chose to participate in the illicit act of the president rather than to listen to my own inner voice which should have warned me that the campaign finance violations that I later pled guilty to were insidious.
“Recently, the president tweeted a statement calling me weak, and he was correct, but for a much different reason than he was implying. It was because time and time again I felt it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds rather than to listen to my own inner voice and my moral compass.
“My weakness can be characterized as a blind loyalty to Donald Trump, and I was weak for not having the strength to question and to refuse his demands.”
Trump’s response on Twitter:
“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. That is why they get paid.
“Despite that many campaign finance lawyers have strongly stated that I did nothing wrong with respect to campaign finance laws, if they even apply, because this was not campaign finance. 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.
“Those charges were just agreed to by him in order to embarrass the president and get a much reduced prison sentence, which he did-including the fact that his family was temporarily let off the hook. As a lawyer, Michael has great liability to me!”
This story has been corrected to show that Trump tweeted his response Thursday, not Friday.
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