President Trump on Thursday berated his former lawyer Michael Cohen for cooperating with federal authorities and testifying against him in court, saying that the practice of "flipping almost ought to be outlawed."
In an interview with Fox & Friends that aired Thursday morning, Trump slammed Cohen for making "a very good deal" with federal authorities to testify against him in court.
Cohen pleaded guilty in court to multiple federal charges including campaign finance violations that appeared to implicate the president.
Responding to the guilty plea, Trump said Cohen "makes a better deal when he uses me."
"He is going to get 10 years in jail or 20 years in jail, but if you can say something bad about Donald Trump and you will go down to two years or three years, which is the deal he made," Trump said in the interview with Fox News' Ainsley Earhardt.
"In all fairness to him, most people are going to do that... I have many friends involved in this stuff. It's called flipping and it almost ought to be illegal. They make up things and now they go from 10 years to they are a national hero," Trump said.
Trump said he had been "watching flippers for 30, 40 years."
"Everything is wonderful and then they get 10 years in jail and they flip on whoever the next-highest one is or as high as you can go. It almost ought to be outlawed," the president said, adding that "it's not fair."
Even though he bemoaned the practice of "flipping" — which is essentially cooperating with law enforcement — Trump himself had offered to "fully cooperate" with the FBI in 1981, proposing that federal agents work undercover in a casino he was considering opening in Atlantic City.
Trump claimed that the two counts of campaign finance violations that Cohen pleaded guilty to "aren't a crime" because the hush money came from Trump himself and not from the campaign.
Cohen testified in court that he made a $130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels — who claimed she had an affair with Trump — "in coordination with and at the direction of" a candidate for federal office, to keep the individual from disclosing the information, and for the "principal purpose of influencing the election."
When asked if he directed Cohen to make the payments to Daniels and a former Playboy model, Karen McDougal, to keep them from going public with their allegations about affairs with Trump, the president said Cohen "made the deals."
"By the way, he pled to two counts which aren't a crime which nobody understands," Trump said.
"I watched a number of shows — sometimes you get good information by watching shows — those two counts aren't a crime," Trump said, adding that adding that a "lot of lawyers on television" said they weren't crimes.
He said the payments to Daniels and McDougal didn't come out of campaign finance.
"They came from me," the president said.
Trump said he knew about the payments "later on" but did not elaborate on the timing.
He said when he heard about the payments his first question was whether they came out of the campaign because "that could be a little dicey."
"And they didn't come out of the campaign and that's big. It's not even a campaign violation," Trump said, adding that almost everybody who runs for office commits campaign violations.
"But what Michael Cohen pled to weren't even campaign related. They weren't crimes," Trumps said,
Trump didn't say if he would pardon his former campaign chair Paul Manafort, who was found guilty by a jury of tax and bank fraud charges, but said that he respected Manafort for going through a trial.
"I have great respect for what he has done in terms of what he has gone through," Trump said. "I would say what he did, some of the charges they threw against him, every consultant, every lobbyist in Washington probably does."
Trump then appeared to distance himself from his former campaign chair, saying he didn't know Manafort well and that he wasn't with the campaign for long.
Trump said that the federal authorities "got" Cohen and Manafort on charges that were "totally unrelated to the campaign."
"I'm not involved," Trump said. "I wasn't charged with anything. People don't like to say that, but I wasn't charged."
Trump said if he ever got impeached "everybody would be very poor."
When asked if the Democrats would try to impeach him, Trump said, "I don't know how you can impeach somebody who's done a great job."
"I tell you what, if I ever got impeached, I think the market would crash. I think everybody would be very poor. Because without this thinking you would see numbers you wouldn't believe... in reverse," he said.
When asked if he would fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Trump said that he "wanted to stay uninvolved" but added that he now puts quotes around the word "justice" in the Department of Justice.
"I put an attorney general who never took control of the Justice Department," Trump said. "Jeff Sessions."
When asked if he would consider firing Sessions, Trump said, "I wanted to stay uninvolved. But when everybody sees what's going on in the Justice Department — I always put 'justice' now with quotes — it's a very, very sad day."
Trump, as he has repeatedly done over the past two years, berated Sessions for recusing himself from the special counsel's probe into Russian interference in the 2016 elections.
"Even my enemies say that Jeff Sessions should have told you that he was going to recuse himself and then you wouldn't have put him in," Trump said. "He took the job and then he said, 'I'm going to recuse myself.' I said, 'What kind of a man is this?'"
Trump said that the only reason he gave Sessions the job was Sessions' loyalty to him and because he was an "original supporter."
"He knows there was no collusion," Trump said.