By Paulina Dedaj
Published December 15, 2018
The president’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen's interview on Friday did little to support his claims that Trump directed him to make hush-money payments, The Federalist senior editor Mollie Hemingway said on the “Special Report” All-Star Panel.
During an interview with ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos, Cohen said Trump directed him to make payments to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal in exchange for silence about alleged sexual encounters, despite being aware that it was wrong and for the purpose of protecting his campaign.
But Hemingway claimed there’s no apparent evidence to back up these claims and that Cohen’s credibility has been repeatedly called into question during Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York’s criminal investigation.
“There are a lot of ways that you can make settlements and sign nondisclosure agreements that are in no way a campaign finance violation. It would require a pretty specific set of circumstances to convince anyone that it actually is a legitimate campaign finance violation, for some reason he wasn’t asked about that,” she said.
“I think if you have Michael Cohen there to answer any questions you have, you might ask for some specifics. It was all very nebulous,” Hemingway added.
National Security Analyst Moran Ortagus agreed that Cohen has done little to substantiate his claims, adding that his guilty pleas have not been “litigated” in court in regards to the campaign finance allegations.
“It’s important to remember that he’s going to jail for financial crimes really. For tax fraud, for bank fraud and if you look at what the South District said about his credibility it’s very different than what the Mueller team has said and alleged.”
But Washington Bureau Chief at USA Today Susan Page argued that even without specifics, Cohen’s claims are “troubling” for Trump as he lays out the three things needed to be true to qualify the then-candidate’s actions as a violation of campaign finance laws.
“What you heard in that interview, without specifics, are three key points that are very troubling for president Trump. One, Michael Cohen says he directed these payments. Number two, he knew they were illegal. Number three, it was for the purposes of affecting the campaign.”
Page said she believed investigators likely asked Cohen the specifics that many are still searching for but acknowledged that he does face “credibility problems.”