President Donald Trump did an interview with Fox&Friends‘ Ainsley Earhardt, that will air Thursday morning, but a preview clip that the show posted to Twitter includes Trump’s take on the payments made to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal to keep their allegations of affairs under wraps. Trump defended himself by ignoring–or at least incorrectly characterizing–the legal issues involved.
— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) August 22, 2018
“They weren’t taken out of campaign finance,” Trump said. “That’s a big thing. That’s a much bigger thing. Did they come out of the campaign? They didn’t come out of the campaign. They came from me, and I tweeted about it.”
He continued to harp on his concern over whether the payments came from the campaign.
“In fact, my first question, when I heard about it, was ‘Did they come out of the campaign?’ Because that could be a little dicey.”
Of course, this ignores the legal issue that was at play in the first place, which is that the payments were alleged to be illegal campaign contributions, not expenditures. As in, going to the campaign, not coming from the campaign. The relevant charges to which Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty on Tuesday were regarding illegal campaign contributions.
“It’s not even a campaign violation,” Trump claimed, seeming to ignore the above issue. He then shifted the focus to his predecessor.
“If you look at President Obama, he had a massive campaign violation,” Trump said. This is a reference to fines the Obama 2008 campaign had to pay for violations that Law&Crime has discussed, including filing late notices and failing to return illegal contributions.
Trump also gave his take as to why Obama’s campaign violations did not result in criminal charges, saying, “But he had a different attorney general, and they viewed it a lot differently.”
This appeared to be yet another dig at Trump’s appointed Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whom he has criticized on many occasions.
At the very beginning of the clip, Trump said he didn’t know about the payments until “later on.” This contradicts what Michael Cohen said under oath in federal court, which was that the payments were made at Trump’s direction.
[Image via Fox News screengrab]