President Donald Trump insisted Thursday that he "never directed" Michael Cohen "to break the law."
In three tweets a day after his former attorney was sentenced to three years in prison, Trump said Cohen pleaded guilty in order to "embarrass the president and get a much reduced prison sentence."
Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison for his guilty pleas to charges including his central role in paying hush money to two women who claimed they had had affairs with Trump. The charges were brought by federal prosecutors in New York and special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating potential coordination between Russia and Trump campaign-related figures.
Cohen's crimes included a range of financial violations, as well as lying to Congress. The hush money, paid in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, constituted violations of campaign-finance law. Prosecutors have said the payments, which went to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal, were made "in coordination with and at the direction of" Trump. Cohen and prosecutors said the money was paid in order to "influence" the election.
The White House has denied Trump had sex with either woman.
U.S. District Court Judge William Pauley said at Cohen's sentencing that each of the crimes on their own "warrant considerable punishment."