White House press secretary Sarah Sanders maintained Wednesday that President Donald Trump “did nothing wrong” relating to the hush money payments made to women who claimed affairs with him during the 2016 campaign.
“As the President has said and we’ve stated many times, he did nothing wrong. There are no charges against him and we’ve commented on it extensively,” Sanders said. “Just because Michael Cohen made a plea deal, doesn’t implicate the President on anything.”
Sanders declined to answer additional questions about what the President knew about the payments and when he knew it.
Asked whether the President has lied to the American people, Sanders called the accusation “ridiculous.”
“I think that’s a ridiculous accusation. The President, in this matter, has done nothing wrong and there have been no charges filed against him,” she said.
She responded to inquiries about the President’s tweets about Cohen from earlier in the day, in which he said Cohen “broke” and recommended no one use Cohen as a lawyer, saying, “The President has expressed his views on that, I don’t have anything further to add.”
Asked whether Trump would pardon Paul Manafort, Sanders sought to distance the former campaign chairman from the President.
“The Manafort case doesn’t have anything to do with the President, it doesn’t have anything to do with his campaign, doesn’t have anything to do with the White House,” Sanders said.
She added that she was “not aware” of any conversations regarding a Manafort pardon beyond when the President was asked about it last week.
Sanders declined to explain the disconnect between Trump’s comments to Fox News and his comments on tape from 2016 discussing how to make payments. Trump told Fox News in an interview Wednesday that he only knew about hush money paid to former adult film star Stormy Daniels – whose real name is Stephanie Clifford – and discussions about payments to former Playboy model Karen McDougal “later on.” Both McDougal and Clifford say they had an affair with Trump, who denies both accusations.
However, Trump was recorded by Cohen speaking about a potential payment to McDougal in the final months of the 2016 campaign. Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani has confirmed the voice heard on the tape was Trump’s.
“The President did nothing wrong,” Sanders repeated when confronted with the stories.
Pressed again by CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, she said, “The President did nothing wrong, there are no charges against him, there is no collusion,” referring reporters to outside counsel.
Asked by Collins whether the White House maintains that Trump did not have affairs with McDougal and Clifford, Sanders didn’t say.
“We’ve addressed this a number of times,” she said.
Asked later whether Trump lied on Air Force One when he said he didn’t know about the payments, Sanders said, “No, and we’ve addressed this a number of times.”