In his first interview following Michael Cohen’s shocking admission that Donald Trump directed him to make illegal campaign finance contributions, the president denied that any of the money came from his campaign.
But as a former White House ethics czar pointed out during a CNN panel Monday afternoon, Trump may have admitted to another crime in the rambling discussion with Fox & Friends‘ Ainsley Earhardt.
“He’s gone out of the frying pan and into the fire,” Obama-era White House ethics chief Norm Eisen told the panel led by CNN host Ana Cabrera.
Eisen said the most “striking” thing about the Fox interview is that Trump admitted that the two six-figure “hush money” payouts made to women who alleged to have affairs with him came from his own accounts — an admission that flies in the face of documents he’d already signed.
“The president, in his usual clumsy way, has stumbled into another federal crime because he signed his federal financial disclosures under false statements penalty,” Obama’s former ethics czar said.
“If you owe somebody money — he just said ‘I knew about the payments,’ he repaid Michael Cohen — he had to list that on the forms,” Eisen continued. “He omitted it.”
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the former White House ethics chief’s watchdog group, previously made one criminal referral that “resulted in a complaint from the Office of Government Ethics to the Department of Justice,” Eisen said.
“President Trump just stumbled right into that second federal offense,” he said. “It may not be the beginning of the end, but it is the end of the beginning.”
Watch below, via CNN: