Cohen says Trump directed him to make hush-money payments to women

President Donald Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen said on Friday that the president directed him to make hush money payments to women who claimed they had affairs with Trump.

Cohen added made the comments in an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America" in which he said he knew what he was doing was wrong and refuted Trump's claim that he "never directed Michael Cohen to break the law."

"I don't think there is anybody that believes that. First of all, nothing at the Trump organization was ever done unless it was run through Mr. Trump," Cohen said. "He directed me, as I said in my allocution, and I said as well in the plea, he directed me to make the payments, he directed me to become involved in these matters."

Cohen added that "of course" Trump knew it was wrong to make the payments to the women.

"You have to remember at what point in time this matter came about. Two weeks or so before the election, post-Billy Bush comments," Cohen said, referring to the infamous "Access Hollywood" tape in which Trump was heard bragging about grabbing women's genitals without consent.

"So, yes, he was very concerned about how this would affect the election."

Related: Michael Cohen, Stormy Daniels hush payment scandal 

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Michael Cohen, Stormy Daniels hush payment scandal
Adult-film actress Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels speaks to the media outside US Federal Court on April 16, 2018, in Lower Manhattan, New York. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen has been under criminal investigation for months over his business dealings, and FBI agents last week raided his home, hotel room, office, a safety deposit box and seized two cellphones. Some of the documents reportedly relate to payments to porn star Stormy Daniels, who claims a one-night stand with Trump a decade ago, and ex Playboy model Karen McDougal who also claims an affair. / AFP PHOTO / HECTOR RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen arrives at federal court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 16, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Michael Avenatti, lawyer for adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, leaves federal court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 16, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Michael Cohen's attorney Todd Harrison arrives at federal court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 16, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Segar
U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen (centre) leaves federal court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 16, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan Mcdermid
Adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels speaks to media along with lawyer Michael Avenatti (R) outside federal court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 16, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Michael Cohen's attorney Todd Harrison is pictured outside the Manhattan Federal Court in New York City, New York, U.S., April 13, 2018. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon
U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen exits a hotel in New York City, U.S., April 11, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, speaks to media along with lawyer Michael Avenatti (R) outside federal court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 16, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan Mcdermid
Attorney for Stormy Daniels, Michael Avenatti is pictured though a window as he arrives at federal court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 16, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and attorney Michael Avenatti arrive at Federal Court in New York, U.S., on Monday, April 16, 2018. Daniels claims she had sex with Donald Trump in 2006 and took a $130,000 hush payment shortly before the 2016 election from lawyer Michael Cohen. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images
President Trumps lawyer Michael Cohen exits the US Federal Court on April 16, 2018, in Lower Manhattan, New York. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen has been under criminal investigation for months over his business dealings, and FBI agents last week raided his home, hotel room, office, a safety deposit box and seized two cellphones. Some of the documents reportedly relate to payments to porn star Stormy Daniels, who claims a one-night stand with Trump a decade ago, and ex Playboy model Karen McDougal who also claims an affair. / AFP PHOTO / EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ (Photo credit should read EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Adult-film actress Stephanie Clifford, (C) also known as Stormy Daniels arrives for a court hearing at the US Courthouse in New York on April 16, 2018. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen has been under criminal investigation for months over his business dealings, and FBI agents last week raided his home, hotel room, office, a safety deposit box and seized two cellphones. / AFP PHOTO / Hector RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
Attorney for Stormy Daniels, Michael Avenatti(C), arrives for a court hearing at the US Courthouse in New York on April 16, 2018. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen has been under criminal investigation for months over his business dealings, and FBI agents last week raided his home, hotel room, office, a safety deposit box and seized two cellphones. / AFP PHOTO / HECTOR RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 13: Michael Avenatti (R), attorney for Stormy Daniels, arrives for a court proceeding regarding the search warrants served on President Donald Trump's longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen, at the United States District Court Southern District of New York, April 13, 2018 in New York City. Cohen and his lawyers are asking the court to block Justice Department officials from reading documents and materials related to his relationship with President Donald Trump that they believe should be protected by attorney-client privilege. Officials with the FBI, armed with a search warrant, raided Cohen's office and two private residences earlier in the week. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
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The interview is the first time Cohen has spoken publicly after he was sentenced Wednesday to three years in prison after pleading guilty in Manhattan federal court to nine federal charges.

At his sentencing, Cohen said that "time and time again, I felt it was my duty to cover up [Trump's] dirty deeds."

Trump on Thursday tweeted after the sentencing that Cohen's conviction is a plot to "embarrass" him.

"I never directed Michael Cohen to break the law," Trump said on Twitter. "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."

The hush money payments included $130,000 to porn star Stormy Daniels and $150,000 to former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal. Trump has denied both affairs.

NBC News reported on Thursday that Trump was the third person in the room in August 2015 when Cohen and National Enquirer publisher David Pecker discussed ways Pecker could help counter negative stories about Trump's relationships with women.

National Enquirer's parent company, AMI, admitted to federal prosecutors in a non-prosecution deal on Wednesday that it made a $150,000 payment to McDougal "in concert with the campaign" to "catch and kill" her story about the alleged affair.

Cohen excoriated the president in the interview, saying "the man doesn't tell the truth."

"The people of the United States of America, people of the world, don't believe what he is saying," Cohen said. "And it is sad that I should take responsibility for his dirty deeds."

Cohen said that the American public should believe him now "because the special counsel stated emphatically that the information that I gave to them is credible and helpful."

"There is a substantial amount of information that they possessed that corroborates the fact that I am telling the truth," he said.

Cohen also answered "no" to the question of whether Trump is telling the truth about everything related to Russia, but could not fully respond questions about special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation because he is still cooperating with investigators.

"I am done with the lying. I am done being loyal to President Trump, and my first loyalty belongs to my wife, my daughter, my son and this country," Cohen said.

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