President Donald Trump has said that payments to two women who say he had affairs with them did not break election campaign rules.
His comments come 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, President Trump said the payments had come from him personally, not from the campaign.
Donald Trump has in the past denied knowing about one of the payments altogether.
He also accused Michael Cohen of making up stories to receive a lighter sentence.
In an excerpt from the Fox & Friends interview, which will be aired in full on August 23, President Trump responded to questions about the hush payments by insisting that they were “not a campaign violation”.
He said: “They came from me. And I tweeted about it. But they did not come out of the campaign.”
President Trump added that he only found out about the payments “later on”.
The president’s comments contradict a statement made earlier by Michael Cohen under oath in which he said Donald Trump had instructed him to make the payments.
Last month, Michael Cohen released audio tapes of him and Donald Trump allegedly discussing one of the payments before the election.
Michael Cohen, who was Donald Trump’s personal lawyer for more than a decade, admitted passing on funds to two women thought to be 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 Donald 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.
Michael Cohen acknowledged in court that the aim was indeed to protect Donald Trump’s candidacy, saying he had paid the money “at the direction” of Trump “for the principal purpose of influencing the election”.
If Donald Trump were to be prosecuted over the money – not through the normal courts, because he is the sitting president, but conceivably in Congress, through an impeachment process – investigators would have to prove that he had indeed given the money to Michael Cohen for electoral reasons.
In his first public comments, back in April, about his alleged affair with Stormy Daniels, President Trump denied knowing about the $130,000 payment made to the actress via Michael Cohen.
Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, alleges that she and Donald Trump had met in a hotel room in 2006.
Asked by a reporter in the press cabin of Air Force One if he had any knowledge about where Michel Cohen had got the money to pay Stormy Daniels, President Trump responded at the time: “I don’t know.”
The following month, the president officially disclosed a payment to Michael Cohen of between $100,001 and $250,000 for expenses incurred in 2016.
Michael Cohen has reached a plea deal with prosecutors, which may see his prison sentence reduced from 65 years to five years and three months.
On the same day that Michael Cohen pleaded guilty, a jury convicted former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort of bank and tax fraud charges.
It was the first criminal trial arising from the justice department probe led by former FBI chief Robert Mueller.
Robert Mueller has been investigating allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election, and whether the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to swing the election in his favor.
Russia has denied claims it interfered in the elections.
There is no confirmation that Michael Cohen will speak to Robert Mueller’s Russia inquiry but his personal lawyer has said his client is happy to talk.
Documents seized from President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen should be reviewed by an independent official, a New York federal judge has ruled.
The so-called special master was named as ex-judge Barbara Jones.
Barbara Jones will review documents seized from Michael Cohen by the FBI to determine if they include confidential communications with his legal clients.
The move comes as President Trump distanced himself from his long-time lawyer.
On April 26, President Trump told Fox News his lawyer was “a good guy” but only one among his “many, many attorneys”.
The president said: “I don’t know his business, but this doesn’t have to do with me. He’s got a business. He also practices law. I would say probably the big thing is his business. And they’re looking at something having to do with his business. I have nothing to do with his business.”
However, President Trump confirmed that Michael Cohen represented him in the “crazy Stormy Daniels deal”, referring to the actress who alleges she had a relationship with him in 2006.
Donald Trump has denied having relations with Stormy Daniels or any knowledge of the $130,000 payment to her by Michael Cohen during the 2016 presidential campaign. Stormy Daniels accepted the sum in return for signing a non-disclosure agreement.
The actress, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, is suing President Trump and Michael Cohen to invalidate the non-disclosure agreement, claiming it was void because the president did not personally sign it.
Michael Cohen said he will invoke his constitutional right to remain silent in the civil case, arguing it could affect the criminal inquiry into his business affairs.
The DoJ announced earlier this month it was investigating Michael Cohen’s business dealings, rather than his work as a lawyer, following a raid on his home and office.
The April 9 raid on Michael Cohen followed a tip-off by the office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.
Russia denies interfering in the election and President Trump has denied any collusion.
It was unclear if any of those seized documents include material relating to Donald Trump’s business dealings.
Legal analysts have said that Michael Cohen’s $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels could have violated the rules on financing Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
On April 26, District Judge Kimba Wood ruled that Barbara Jones would be the first to review the material, before handing over documents prosecutors could use in their case.
Prosecutors had initially said the documents should be reviewed by a separate team of lawyers in their office while Michael Cohen’s lawyers argued they should have the first look, citing some of the material could violate attorney-client privilege.
Judge Kimba Wood said Barbara Jones could meet lawyers as soon as next week, but added she would intervene if the process took too long.
She said: “If at any point it turns out that the special master process is going too slowly, I will revisit it.”
Barbara Jones served as a federal judge for 16 years in the Southern District of New York and is a former organized-crime prosecutor.
The former judge was appointed in 2016 as the independent review officer for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters in a corruption case at the labor union.
Fox News host Sean Hannity has been revealed as the mystery third client of President Donald Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen.
A judge ruled that the president’s personal attorney must reveal the link to Sean Hannity.
April 16 hearing in NYC follows an FBI raid this month on Michael Cohen’s home and office, which Sean Hannity has called an anti-Trump “witch hunt”.
A vocal Trump advocate, Sean Hannity denied he was a client of Michael Cohen.
Sean Hannity, who is known for passionately defending Donald Trump on his Fox News show against what he describes as biased attacks by the media, had never previously divulged any legal ties to the president’s attorney.
FBI agents who raided Michael Cohen’s home and evidence were looking for evidence on various matters, including a $130,000 payment made to actress Stormy Daniels, who alleges she had an affair with Donald Trump and was paid “hush money”.
During April 16 hearing, the judge deny Michael Cohen’s attempts to prevent prosecutors from reviewing the materials seized in the FBI raids.
President Trump’s attorney says the computers, phones and documents should be protected under attorney-client privilege.
However, Judge Kimba Wood ruled his application for a preliminary injunction was premature.
She allowed prosecutors to proceed with the cataloguing of evidence seized in the raids while a system is set up to ensure that records protected by attorney-client privilege are not disclosed to investigators.
However, the judge will also consider appointing a “special master” to play a supervisory role in the process.
Just before hearing, Michael Cohen said in a statement that he had only provided advice to three clients in the past year.
One was Donald Trump. Another was a Republican fundraiser who admitted to paying a former Playboy model after she became pregnant during their affair.
The third client, Michael Cohen said, had refused to give him permission to be publicly named.
However, Judge Wood made one of the lawyers identify Sean Hannity.
There were gasps and some laughter in the courtroom after the announcement, and some journalists raced out of the courtroom to report the revelation.
Sean Hannity responded on Twitter: “In response to some wild speculation, let me make clear that I did not ask Michael Cohen to bring this proceeding on my behalf, I have no personal interest in this proceeding, and, in fact, asked that my de minimis discussions with Michael Cohen, which dealt almost exclusively about real estate, not be made a part of this proceeding.”
He later issued a statement of denial, saying: “Michael Cohen has never represented me in any matter.
“I have occasionally had brief discussions with him about legal questions about which I wanted his input and perspective.
“I assumed those conversations were confidential, but to be absolutely clear they never involved any matter between me and a third party.”
After last week’s raid on Michael Cohen’s offices, Sean Hannity took to the airwaves to denounce the probe as a “declared war against the president of the United States”.
Also in the Manhattan federal court was Stormy Daniels, whose appearance triggered a scrum by photographers outside.
Michael Cohen has admitted making a payment to Stormy Daniel, who claims the money was to keep her quiet about an affair she says she had with Donald Trump in 2006.
The president’s attorney says he made the payment just before the 2016 election, but maintains Donald Trump did not know about it.
Michael Cohen is facing a criminal inquiry, which President Trump has strongly criticized.
According to legal analysts, the payoff to Stormy Daniels could amount to a campaign finance violation.
The White House has denied President Trump had an extramarital affair.