WASHINGTON – Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former lawyer, said Trump authorized hush money to two alleged mistresses because he was worried about how their stories would affect his chances for election in 2016.
“He knows the truth, I know the truth, others know the truth,” Cohen told ABC's "Good Morning America" in an interview broadcast Friday. "And here is the truth: People of the United States of America, people of the world, don't believe what he is saying."
Cohen added of Trump: "The man doesn't tell the truth. And it is sad that I should take responsibility for his dirty deeds.”
ABC News broadcast the interview two days after a federal judge sentenced Cohen to three years in prison for campaign finance violations, tax evasion and lying to Congress.
Trump has blamed Cohen for the hush money scheme, saying Thursday on Twitter that "I never directed Michael Cohen to break the law."
"He was a lawyer and he is supposed to know the law," he added.
During a Fox News interview later in the day, Trump insisted that whatever Cohen did, "he did on his own."
Trump also accused Cohen of talking in order to get a reduced sentence, and to protect members of his family – a claim that Cohen said incensed him and prompted him to agree to the ABC interview.
“Instead of him taking responsibility for his actions, what does he do?” Cohen said. “He attacks my family.”
A U.S. attorney's office in New York is conducting the hush money investigation that implicates Trump.
Cohen has also provided information to special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian efforts to influence the 2016 campaign by hacking Democratic critics of Trump.
Cohen told ABC he didn't talk with prosecutors "to embarrass the president ... He knows the truth."
"I gave loyalty to someone who, truthfully, does not deserve loyalty."
Trump and his lawyers claimed the payments to two women did not relate to campaign finance, and, even if they did, they would amount to a civil case and not a criminal one.
Legal analysts said Trump could be vulnerable to a felony if prosecutors can prove he authorized and sought to conceal the payments for the purpose of influencing an election.
That is what Cohen says happened.
The payments to former Playboy model Karen McDougal and adult film star Stormy Daniels were not reported at the time and amounted to improper campaign contributions, prosecutors said.
In the "Good Morning America" interview, Cohen said he "just reviewed the documents" behind payment to McDougal. The National Enquirer paid for the rights to McDougal's story about her relationship with Trump, but killed the story instead of publishing it.
Prosecutors in New York said they have a cooperation agreement with the parent company of The National Enquirer, saying it paid the money "in order to ensure that the woman did not publicize damaging allegations about the candidate before the 2016 presidential election."
Cohen said Trump knew about the payments and knew they were wrong because their purpose was to help the campaign.
Trump “was very concerned about how this would affect the election” if allegations of extra-marital affairs became public, he said.
Now that Trump is president, Cohen told ABC he has advice for his former client: "Lay off Twitter. Run the country the way that we thought that you would."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Michael Cohen says Trump directed him to pay hush money to keep women quiet during 2016 election