Earlier this week, Fox News host Tucker Carlson ripped into accusations that President Donald Trump somehow committed a crime as indicated by his former attorney Michael Cohen’s guilty plea.
Carlson’s comments came just before a judge sentenced Cohen to three years in prison after he pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance laws when he paid off porn star Stormy Daniels.
According to the allegation, Trump tried to influence the election by using Cohen to keep Daniels and another woman quiet about their alleged affairs.
For Carlson and others, however, that argument didn’t hold water. He instead saw the payments as a result of Daniels’ and playboy model Karen McDougal’s “extortion” efforts.
“Two women approach Donald Trump and threaten to ruin his career and humiliate his family if he doesn’t give them money,” he said. “That sounds like a classic case of extortion.”
Carlson suspected that a political motive drove the prosecution to construe political contributions as something that was obviously “extortion payments”:
“If you were a federal prosecutor on a political mission, you’d construe those extortion payments as campaign contributions. You’d do this even though the money in question didn’t come from, or go to, Trump’s presidential campaign.”
It was “insultingly stupid,” Carlson said, to argue that Trump violated the law by not revealing payments that would have sabotaged their purpose of keeping the alleged affairs out of the public eye.
Watch Carlson speak on the issue below:
Carlson also argued that that logic opened the floodgates to classifying as a “regulated campaign donation” any expenditure on efforts to maintain a candidate’s public image.
“That would include, in addition to an infinite number of other things, buying toothpaste and getting a haircut. It would definitely include the taxpayer-financed slush fund Congress has set aside to pay off its own sexual harassment claims,” he said.
Carlson wasn’t the only one to push back on the idea that Trump committed a crime.
Former Federal Election Commission (FEC) chairman Bradley A. Smith said on Wednesday that Cohen “is pleading guilty to something that isn’t a crime.”
“His admissions are not binding on President Trump, and Trump should fight these charges ferociously,” Smith also said.
As IJR previously noted, Cohen has said that he has “substantial amounts of information” to corroborate his claims.
“The special counsel stated emphatically that the information that I gave to them was credible and helpful,” he told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos during an interview.
“There’s a substantial amount of information that they possess that corroborates the fact that I am telling the truth.”
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated.