A week of devastating body blows for Donald Trump

Sunday, 26 Aug, 2018

The president's long-time attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, entered a plea in federal court in NY, admitting he paid hush money during the final days of the 2016 presidential campaign to two women who had affairs with Trump and that he did so at the candidate's direction.

Trump also added that people who are being prosecuted, decide to cooperate with the government and lie in exchange for a lenient sentence.

Mr Trump was responding to a question on his mounting legal woes after his former attorney Michael Cohen said under oath that Mr Trump instructed him to commit a crime by breaking U.S. campaign finance laws.

Cohen told a court that Trump told him to arrange a $280,000 (£220,000) "hush money" payment to keep two women from claiming they had affairs with him during the 2016 election campaign.

The legal risk to Trump is the timing and objective of 2016 payments to porn actress Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal.

Trump made the comments as his White House struggled to manage the fallout from Cohen's plea deal and the conviction of Trump's former campaign chairman Manafort on financial charges.

That removed him from oversight of the federal Special Counsel's investigation of Russia's role in the election and whether Mr Trump's campaign worked with Moscow to influence the vote. Mr Trump has accused Cohen of making up "stories in order to get a "deal" from federal prosecutors.

Michael Cohen, longtime personal lawyer and confidante for President Donald Trump, exits the United States District Court Southern District of New York, April 16, 2018 in New York City.

Typically willing to defend the president's every move, Republican legislators have been largely quiet over the past 48 hours, presumably hoping that the latest headlines tying Trump to convicted criminals won't damage their prospects in November's midterm elections.

Trump praised Manafort as "a fearless man!" raising speculation the former campaign operative could become the recipient of a pardon as he argues the prosecution was an overreach by the Justice Department.

"Cohen did not only want to salvage something after being cast adrift and savaged by Trump, but he undoubtedly wanted to give Trump a taste of his own medicine", the former Trump associate said.

"I don't know how you can impeach somebody who's done a great job", Trump responded.

Davis's response was significant because Cohen's previous denials of any knowledge of Russian collusion could expose him to a further felony charge and additional prison time if he now says something else to Mueller.

Trump said the payments did not constitute a campaign finance violation because the payments "came from me" and not the Trump campaign.

Cohen also claimed in a June 28 tweet the dossier "misreports 15 allegations about me". "He simply says the markets will tank if I'm out of here, because I've done a good job".

Congress has latitude to determine "high crimes and misdemeanors".

Fox News has been airing excerpts of the interview with Mr Trump, which is scheduled to be shown in its entirety today. "The answers to the old, Nixonian, questions, 'What did the President know and when did he know it?' might be forthcoming, depending on what Cohen and/or Manafort decide to reveal".

Cohen's admission under oath that Trump directed him to make the payments to affect the 2016 election is likely to carry significant legal weight.