GOP Rep. Goes To Great Lengths To Deny Trump Was Implicated In Crimes

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Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY) ran in a bit of a rhetorical circle Tuesday in order to avoid admitting that President Donald Trump had been implicated by Michael Cohen’s guilty plea and federal prosecutors.

Prosecutors and Cohen have said he committed two campaign finance violations in order to aide Trump’s campaign — paying off Stormy Daniels and coordinating American Media’s payment to Karen McDougal — at Trump’s direction, directly implicating the President in a crime.

Reed wasn’t ready to concede that ground in an interview with CNN’s Brianna Keilar.

“I don’t agree with the assumption that he’s been accused of a crime, I don’t see that here,” Reed said after Keilar introduced the topic.

“He’s been implicated,” Keilar corrected him.

“Eh, I disagree with that,” Reed responded.

“That’s just the truth, I don’t know how you disagree with it, it’s a fact,” Keilar said.

Reed pointed to former North Carolina senator and presidential candidate John Edwards’ case, though there are key contrasts with the payments for which Edwards was eventually not found guilty: the hush money payments to Edwards’ mistress, Rielle Hunter, “took place as he was ending his candidacy,” the New York Times recently noted, while Trump’s directed payments were made on the eve of an election that he won. Prosecutors also have stronger evidence against Trump and cooperating witnesses.

Reed added: “Obviously, there’s activity here, but I don’t think it’s criminal. Whether or not it was wise, I’ll defer to the American people on that.”

Reed called Trump’s behavior “concerning,” but said “at the end of the day, ‘criminal’ is a total different level of a conclusion, and I just don’t see it there.”

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