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WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump knew it was wrong to order election-eve hush money paid to two women who claimed to have had affairs with him, his former lawyer Michael Cohen said in an interview to be broadcast on Friday.

Trump acted because he “was very concerned about how this would affect the election,” Cohen told ABC News of the women’s allegations, in his first comments since being sentenced to three years in prison on Thursday.

Trump has said he never directed Cohen — who is due to surrender to custody by March 6 — to break the law. But Cohen, asked if Trump knew the payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal were wrong, said “of course.” Cohen challenged Trump’s assertion that he never told him to break the law.

“I don’t think there is anybody that believes that,” Cohen told George Stephanopoulos on “Good Morning America.” ABC released excerpts of the interview ahead of its full airing.

“First of all, nothing at the Trump Organisation was ever done unless it was run through Mr Trump. He directed me to make the payments, he directed me to become involved in these matters,” Cohen said.

“He knows the truth. I know the truth. Others know the truth,” Cohen added.

“And here is the truth: People of the United States of America, people of the world, don’t believe what he is saying. The man doesn’t tell the truth. And it is sad that I should take responsibility for his dirty deeds,” said Cohen.

Asked if he believed Trump was telling the truth about Russia’s meddling in the US election, Cohen said “no” but he declined to comment further.

“That sort of gets into the whole investigation right now between (the) special counsel’s office, the attorney general’s office, you also have the Southern District of New York — I don’t want to jeopardise any of their investigations,” he said.

In a separate development, The New York Times and Wall Street Journal reported that federal prosecutors have opened another line of election-related inquiry, investigating whether foreigners illegally funnelled donations to Trump’s inaugural committee and a pro-Trump super PAC.

Published in Dawn, December 15th, 2018