NEWS
22/08/2018 20:32 BST | Updated 23/08/2018 14:01 BST

Sarah Sanders Says Donald Trump Did Not Lie Over Cohen Payments Despite Damning Tape

"The President has done nothing wrong."

The White House Press Secretary has said Donald Trump did not lie to reporters aboard Air Force One over payments made by his former lawyer Michael Cohen.

Sarah Sanders was holding a press briefing a day after Tuesday’s bombshell court cases involving Cohen and another of the President’s former associates, Paul Manafort.

The Cohen case centred around payments made to adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, both paid to stay quiet about alleged affairs with the President.

On 5 April Trump categorically denied any knowledge of the payments when asked about it by reporters aboard Air Force One.

But in a preview clip of a Trump interview with Fox News broadcast today Trump says he knew about the payments “later on”.

However, in July Cohen released an audio recording of Trump discussing the payments before they were made.

A reporter at the press briefing on Wednesday asked Sanders: “Can you say today that the President has never lied to the American people, because so many people now look back on that tape of him on Air Force One saying he knew nothing about these payments, when in fact we now know he knew everything about these payments.

“So has he lied?”

To which she responded: “I think that’s a ridiculous accusation, the President has done nothing wrong in this matter, nothing wrong and there are no charges against him.”

The White House press briefing comes after Trump’s former campaign chairman was found guilty of eight charges relating to tax and bank fraud.

Paul Manafort faced 18 counts in total, five counts of filing false tax returns, four counts of failing to disclose his offshore bank accounts and nine counts of bank fraud.

On Tuesday he was found guilty of five tax fraud charges, one count relating to hiding foreign bank accounts and two counts of bank fraud 

A mistrial was declared by Judge T.S Ellis on the 10 remaining 10 charges after the jury was unable to reach a verdict following several days of deliberations. 

Manafort now faces a lengthy term in prison. 

As Trump was arriving in West Virginia for a rally on Tuesday night, he said he felt “very badly” for Manafort, adding: “It has nothing to do with me, nothing to do with Russia collusion.”

On Wednesday Trump went even further and praised his former campaign chairman for refusing to “break” under legal pressure.

Trump said in a tweet that he felt “very badly” for Manafort and commended him for declining “to make up stories in order to get a ‘deal’”.

Meanwhile, Trump has hit out at his ex-lawyer and personal fixer, Michael Cohen, who pleaded guilty to illegally interfering in the 2016 election at the direction of the president in a separate court hearing – apparently implicating his former boss.

Cohen said he worked “at the direction of a candidate for federal office,” ostensibly Trump, for the purpose of influencing the election. He also pleaded guilty to five counts of tax evasion, two counts related to an illegal campaign contribution and one count of making a false statement.

The plea announcement came shortly after multiple US media outlets reported that Cohen had reached a plea deal with prosecutors of the Southern District of New York.