“It’s called flipping, and it almost ought to be illegal,” Trump told “Fox & Friends” co-host Ainsley Earhardt in an interview that aired Wednesday. “They make up things, and now they go from 10 years [in jail] to they’re a national hero. They have a statue erected in their honor. It’s not a fair thing, but that’s why he did it.”
Cohen pleaded guilty to eight charges, including violating campaign-finance laws by making hush-money payments to two women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump. Cohen acknowledged that the payments were meant to influence the 2016 election by keeping the allegations out of the news, and that they were made “in coordination with and at the direction of a candidate for federal office,” referring to then-candidate Trump.
“He makes a better deal when he uses me, like everybody else,” the president said. “This whole thing about flipping, they call it, I know all about flipping. For 30, 40 years I’ve been watching flippers. Everything’s wonderful and then they get 10 years in jail and they — they flip on whoever the next highest one is, or as high as you can go. It — it almost ought to be outlawed.”
A pardon for Manafort?
Trump would not say whether he is considering a pardon for his former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, who was found guilty Tuesday on eight counts of tax and bank fraud in a case brought against him by special counsel Robert Mueller.
“I have great respect for what he’s done in terms of what he’s going through,” Trump said of Manafort. “I would say what he did, some of the charges they threw against him, every consultant, every lobbyist in Washington probably does.”
The president also complained of the way federal agents carried out a search warrant on Manafort.
“They raid his home at like five in the morning,” Trump said. “I think on a weekend and his wife is in bed. And they go in with guns. This isn’t Al Capone.”
‘I always put justice now with quotes’
Trump renewed his criticism of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who recused himself from Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia shortly after he was appointed attorney general.
“Jeff Sessions recused himself, which he shouldn’t have done. Or he should have told me,” Trump said. “Even my enemies say that Jeff Sessions should have told you that he was going to recuse himself and then you wouldn’t have put him in. He took the job and then he said I’m going to recuse myself. I said, ‘What kind of a man is this?’”
Trump said the “only reason” gave Sessions the nation’s top law enforcement officer post was because he worked on the president’s campaign and was the first sitting senator to endorse him.
“You know the only reason I gave him the job,” Trump said. “Because I felt loyalty. He was an original supporter.”
Trump said he wants to stay “uninvolved” with Mueller’s probe, but that he may act because of what he sees as bias at the Justice Department against him.
“Everybody see’s what going on in the Justice Department,” Trump said. “I always put justice now with quotes. It’s a very, very sad day.”
‘Later on I knew’
In a portion of the “Fox & Friends” interview that aired Wednesday afternoon, Trump said he knew “later on” about Cohen’s payments to women alleging they had affairs with him. He didn’t specify when he found out, but as recently as April he claimed to a reporter aboard Air Force One that he knew nothing about them.
“You’ll have to ask Michael Cohen,” he said at the time.
The president also insisted the payments to his alleged paramours did not constitute a campaign finance violation because “they didn’t come out of the campaign, they came from me.”
“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,” Trump said. “But they weren’t — that’s not a — it’s not even a campaign violation.”
Trump’s rationale is disputed by most legal experts and the president’s own Justice Department, which brought the charges against Cohen.
That Trump has been implicated in a federal crime has a few Democrats calling for the president’s impeachment regardless of the conclusions of Mueller’s ongoing Russia probe.
Trump said his outstanding record in office should make him immune to impeachment.
“I don’t know how you can impeach somebody who’s done a great job,” he said. “I tell you what, if I ever got impeached, I think the market would crash, I think everybody would be very poor, because without this thinking, you would see, you would see numbers that you wouldn’t believe in reverse.” Wall Street experts told Yahoo Finance that they aren’t convinced an impeachment would derail markets.
When asked to grade his presidency, Trump didn’t hesitate.
“I would honestly give myself an A+,” he said.
Read more from Yahoo News:
- Trump hails Manafort as a stand-up guy, denounces Cohen as a snitch
- Giuliani: Trump isn’t considering a pardon for Manafort ‘at this time’
- GOP offers muted response to Manafort and Cohen
- Trump escalates attack on ‘disgraced and discredited’ Mueller
- Cohen and Manafort legal dramas will continue, posing new perils for Trump