After Michael Cohen pleads guilty to campaign finance violations at Trump's direction, Fox's Gregg Jarrett insists Trump didn't do anything illegal
Jarrett: "The fact that a prosecutor in New York says this was a crime, and, under pressure, Michael Cohen agrees to that, it doesn't make it so"
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From the August 22 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): Gregg, my number one question this morning is, Cohen changed his story. And yesterday, he's now saying that the president directed him to pay off these women. If that second story is true, then did the president do anything illegal?
GREGG JARRETT: No. There's two reasons why this is not an illegal campaign contribution. As long as there is a secondary or dual purpose, the law says it's not a campaign expense. So, for the president, it would be personal and commercial reasons for paying money in exchange for a nondisclosure agreement. And the fact that he's done it in the past, before he ever became a candidate, only supports that argument. And second of all, in order to criminalize an illegal campaign contribution, which is normally a civil penalty, you actually have to show the law's very special on this for that statute. You have to show willful and knowing violation of the campaign laws. Most people don't understand campaign laws, including Barack Obama, who received $2 million in illegal campaign contributions. He paid a fine for it.
BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): About $300,000, I understand. So, Lanny Davis, the attorney -- and advocate for Hillary Clinton, but attorney for Michael Cohen -- says this: "If those payments were a crime for Michael Cohen, then why wouldn't they be a crime for Donald Trump?" What's your answer to that?
JARRETT: Lanny Davis knows better than that because he's actually a very fine lawyer, although he is a Hillary Clinton acolyte and has been for a long time. The fact that a prosecutor in New York says this was a crime, and, under pressure, Michael Cohen agrees to that, it doesn't make it so. It hasn't been litigated. There was no trial, no judge, no jury. So, Lanny Davis' statement is very misleading and deceptive.
STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): I heard a commentator on television last night talk about how, in this plea agreement Michael Cohen made with the court system, that essentially Donald Trump, who was referred to as the unnamed candidate, was an unindicted co-conspirator. Ultimately, this could lead to him being an indicted co-conspirator? Is that possible?
JARRETT: Sure, an unindicted co-conspirator can always become one later. Nixon likely would have been had he not been pardoned by Gerald Ford. But, that is also deceptive and misleading, and it's blatantly unfair to somebody to be labeled an unindicted co-conspirator --
DOOCY: It sounds pretty serious.
JARRETT: For the reasons I just explained, that this really isn't a campaign violation, and it's certainly not criminal. So, for somebody to suggest that the president will now be an unindicted co-conspirator is blatantly unfair.
EARHARDT: Gregg, what about the Mueller investigation and the Russia collusion? The president said yesterday this just proves there's no collusion there. But, is Mueller going to be tempted, because this has cost a lot of money, will he be tempted -- I would hope not, but would he be tempted to try to find a crime, maybe try to find a reason for impeachment, just so that he can walk away and say, I got something, I did my job?
JARRETT: Sure, there's always a propensity amongst special counsels or independent prosecutors to try to justify their existence. This case has always been an investigation in search of a crime, which is backwards under the law, under the federal regulations. This was an illegitimate appointment. You must first state a crime specifically. Look at the authorization order from Mueller's appointment. There is no crime specified there. But, that has not stopped Mueller from assembling a team of partisans to go after Donald Trump.