Michael Cohen: Trump Knew Hush Payments Were Wrong—'It Is Sad I Should Take Responsibility for His Dirty Deeds'

President Donald Trump's former lawyer told ABC in his first interview since he was sentenced to three years in prison that the president was fully aware of hush-money payments to two women.

Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels both claimed to have had affairs with Trump, which he initially denied. Michael Cohen, set to begin his sentence in March, told Good Morning America that Trump had been "very concerned" about how the claims could affect his election campaign.

Read more: Donald Trump named third person in hush money meeting

The former "fixer" was sentenced this week for crimes that included lying to Congress, tax evasion and violating campaign finance laws. "I knew what I was doing was wrong," he told George Stephanopoulos.

Cohen, and previously federal prosecutors, said Trump had directed him to make the hush-money payments.

And when asked if Trump knew it was wrong to use money to silence the women during the campaign he said "of course." He said the purpose was to "help [Trump] and his campaign."

On Thursday, the president hit back at his former legal confidant on Twitter, saying he "never directed" Cohen to break any laws while they worked together. "As a lawyer, Michael has great liability to me!" he fumed. But Cohen told ABC that claim was inaccurate.

"I don't think there is anybody that believes that," he told Stephanopoulos. "First of all, nothing at the Trump Organization was ever done unless it was run through Mr. Trump. He directed me to make the payments, he directed me to become involved in these matters.

"He knows the truth. I know the truth. Others know the truth," he continued. "Here is the truth: People of the United States of America, people of the world, don't believe what he is saying. The man doesn't tell the truth. It is sad that I should take responsibility for his dirty deeds."

Cohen, 52, declined to answer questions about Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. "I don't want to jeopardize any of their investigations," he said, adding a "no" when asked if he believed the president had been truthful about the ongoing inquiry.

According to a report yesterday, Trump was in the room when Cohen met with National Enquirer publisher David Pecker to find ways to counter stories about Trump and his alleged affairs with women.

Cohen said Trump hadchanged since taking the top job.

"He's a very different individual," Cohen said. "I think the pressure of the job is much more than what he thought it was going to be. It's not like the Trump Organization, where he would bark out orders and people would blindly follow what he wanted done.

"There's a system here. He doesn't understand the system, and it's sad because the country has never been more divisive and one of the hopes that I have out of the punishment that I've received as well as the cooperation that I have given, I will be remembered in history as helping to bring this country back together. I will not be the villain of his story."

Michael Cohen
Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former personal attorney and fixer, arrives at federal court for his sentencing hearing, December 12 in New York City. Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images