Trump admits he paid hush money, ducks question on Manafort pardon

  • President Trump admits he provided the hush money used by attorney Michael Cohen to suppress the allegations of two women that they had affairs with Trump.
  • But Trump insists in a Fox interview that he only knew about payments "later on," contradicting Cohen's sworn statement that Trump had directed him to make the payments.
  • Trump also doesn't rule out a pardon for former campaign chief Paul Manafort.

President Donald Trump has admitted he provided the hush money used by attorney Michael Cohen to suppress the allegations of two women that they had affairs with Trump.

In a wide-ranging interview that aired Thursday on Fox, the president also didn't rule out a pardon for former campaign chief Paul Manafort.

Trump insisted he only knew about the payments "later on," contradicting his former lawyer's sworn statement that Trump had directed him to make the payments. Without mentioning Trump by name, Cohen made the statement in pleading guilty Tuesday to eight federal charges.

"Later on I knew. Later on. … What he did — and they weren't taken out of the campaign finance, that's the big thing. That's a much bigger thing," Trump told Fox. "Did they come out of the campaign?"

"They didn't come out of the campaign, they came from me," he said.

Trump has previously denied having affairs with either woman.

At a court hearing in New York on Tuesday, Cohen pleaded guilty to eight counts related to tax fraud, excessive campaign contributions, making false statements to a financial institution and unlawful corporate contributions.

In a separate federal court, Manafort was found guilty Tuesday of five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud and one count of failing to file foreign bank account reports.

Donald Trump, Paul Manafort and Ivanka Trump check the podium at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, July 21, 2016.
Bill Clark | CQ Roll Call | Getty Images
Donald Trump, Paul Manafort and Ivanka Trump check the podium at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, July 21, 2016.

Speaking to "Fox & Friends," Trump was asked whether he was considering pardoning his former campaign chairman. He didn't rule out the possibility, but failed to give a direct answer.

"I have great respect for what he's done in terms of what he's gone through," Trump said.

"You know, he worked for Ronald Reagan for years, he worked for Bob Dole, he worked — I guess his firm worked for (Sen. John) McCain," the president added. "He worked for many, many people, many, many years."

Manafort's federal conviction was the first trial stemming from charges brought by special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign. The charges against Manafort did not relate to his work on Trump's election campaign, however.

Trump cast the charges against Manafort as widespread in the lobbying industry: "Some of the charges they threw against him, every consultant, every lobbyist in Washington probably does."

Trump also said the stock market would crash if he were to be impeached.

"I don't know how you can impeach somebody who's done a great job," the president said.

—CNBC's Marty Steinberg contributed to this story.