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Republicans treading cautiously on Trump's potential legal trouble



A number of Republicans on Capitol Hill are cautiously in the wake of Michael Cohen's allegations that President Trump directed him to arrange hush-money payments with two women because, according to Cohen, then-candidate Trump "was very concerned about how this would affect the election.

The allegations about Trump's motives, leveled during an exclusive interview with ABC News, by the president's personal attorney and fixer, arrived on the heels of Cohen being sentenced to three years in prison for various crimes, including campaign finance violation, tax evasion and lying to Congress.

Federal prosecutors alleged that Cohen violated campaign finance laws by paying two women who claimed to have affairs with Trump acting "in coordination with and at the direction of" the then-candidate.

Trump has argued that the payments amount to nothing more than a "simple private transaction," and do not qualify as a campaign finance violations.

"No Smocking Gun … No Collusion." "Democrats can not find a Smocking Gun tying the Trump to Russia after James Comey's testimony. @FoxNews That's because there's NO COLLUSION. "So now the Dems go to a simple private transaction, wrongly call a campaign contribution," Trump tweeted Dec. 1

0. "… which it was not (but even what, it is only a CIVIL CASE, like Obama's – but it was done right by a lawyer and there would not be a fine." Lawyer's liability if he made a mistake, not me). "WITCH HUNT!"

 PHOTO: Michael Cohen walks out of federal court in New York, Nov. 29, 2018. Julie Jacobson / AP
Michael Cohen walks out of federal court in New York, Nov. 29, 2018.

The response among Republicans has been reserved.

"GOP Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana told reporters on Thursday.

"And I certainly can not read these tea leaves." The US Attorney and Mr. Mueller … they have evidence that I'm not aware of, so I do not want to pre-judge it, "Kennedy said.

 PHOTO: Sen. Lindsey Graham, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, makes a point to reporters on Brett Kavanaugh's accusers as he arrives for a vote at the Capitol in Washington, Sept. 26, 2018. J. Scott Applewhite / AP
Sen. Lindsey Graham, member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, makes a point to reporters on Brett Kavanaugh's accusers as he arrives for a vote at the Capitol in Washington, Sept. 26, 2018.

The President's top ally in the Senate – The Senate Judiciary Committee – Sen. Lindsey Graham Demand Cohen's misdeeds could implicate the president.

"Well, I mean, all I can tell you is what I see on the television," Graham said.

Regarding Cohen, Graham said last week: "He plead guilty to some business misdeeds, and they're claiming a campaign finance violation and … I think that would be a difficult case for somebody to prove, but we'll see where it goes. "

Another top ally, retiring Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, initially pinned the blame squarely on Democrats.

 PHOTO: Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) waits in the Senate President's pro tempore office for the arrival of Judge Brett Kavanaugh at the Capitol, July 11, 2018. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images [19659010] Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) waits in the Senate President's pro tempore office for Judge Brett Kavanaugh at the Capitol, July 11, 2018.

Asked if he had any concerns that Trump was implicated Hatch told CNN on Wednesday: "The Democrats will do anything to hurt this president."

When he was informed by federal prosecutors in New York, Hatch said: "OK, but I do not care, all I can say is he's doing a good job as president."

But on Friday, Hatch's office released a lengthy apologizing statement for what he called his "irresponsible" remarks.

"I do not believe the president broke the law, but one of the core principles of our country is that it does not break the law."

 PHOTO: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) speaks to reporters following a closed briefing on intelligence matters on Capitol Hill, Dec. 4, 2018. Zach Gibson / Getty Images
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) speaks to reporters following a closed briefing on intelligence matters on Capitol Hill, Dec. 4, 2018.

At ABC News' latest count, only one other GOP senator – Marco Rubio – has gone as far as saying that no one, including the president, is above the law.

"If someone has violated the law, the application of the law should be like this." be the case, "Rubio said Sunday on CNN when asked about Trump's possible involvement in the violation of campaign finance laws.

Rubio said he would not be a political decision, he said he was a nation of laws and no one in this country no matter who you are is above it. "

Meanwhile, Democrats say Trump should be worried.

Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy compared the current situation to that of former President Richard Nixon's resignation in 1974.

"President Nixon was an unindicted co-conspirator." What a different set of facts, but this investigation is now beginning to put the president "This Week." Murphy said on ABC's "This Week."

Trump has not been named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Cohen case.


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