The White House has pushed back forcefully against suggestions that a plea deal struck by US President Donald Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen implicated Mr Trump in a crime.

"As the president has said, we've stated many times, he did nothing wrong. There are no charges against him," press secretary Sarah Sanders said at a White House briefing.

"Just because Michael Cohen made a plea deal doesn't mean that that implicates the president on anything."

Cohen yesterday pleaded guilty to eight criminal charges of tax evasion, bank fraud and campaign finance violations.

He told a federal court in Manhattan that Mr Trump directed him to arrange payments ahead of the 2016 presidential election to silence two women who said they had affairs with Mr Trump.

The White House's position tracked what Mr Trump had maintained throughout the course of the day.

Ms Sanders also said Mr Trump is "not concerned at all" that Cohen might implicate the president if he cooperates with Russia probe special counsel Robert Mueller.

"I don't think the president is concerned at all," she said, adding: "He knows that he did nothing wrong and that there was no collusion, and we're going to continue focusing on things that Americans care about and that we can have an impact on."

Ms Sanders also said there have been no discussions at the White House about giving former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who was convicted of multiple counts of fraud, a presidential pardon.

Earlier, the president lashed out at Cohen in a Twitter post by saying the campaign finance violations Cohen pleaded guilty to in federal court in New York on Tuesday were not a crime - even though prosecutors and Cohen agreed that they were.

Mr Trump made the claim without offering any evidence.

In another tweet, Mr Trump said, "If anyone is looking for a good lawyer, I would strongly suggest that you don't retain the services of Michael Cohen."

At the same time, Mr Trump praised Manafort as a "brave man" for not cooperating with federal authorities.

Fox News released excerpts of an interview conducted with Mr Trump in which the president said he knew of the payments made by Cohen "later on" but did not elaborate.

After first denying that he knew anything about Cohen's actions, Mr Trump earlier this year acknowledged that he reimbursed Cohen for payments he made in late 2016 to Stormy Daniels, an adult actress whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.

Daniels has alleged she had a relationship with Mr Trump.

The president has insisted he paid Cohen out of personal funds and that the payments were not intended to benefit his campaign but to resolve a personal matter.

"They're weren't taken out of campaign finance. That's a big thing," Mr Trump said in the Fox interview. "They didn't come out of the campaign; they came from me."

Trump critics have argued the case being made by the president that the payments to Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal were personal do not hold up given the timing only weeks before the election.

"If this was a personal matter, why wasn’t she paid off after the affair or in the intervening decade?" said Paul S.Ryan, the head of litigation at Common Cause.

"The election was what made her story valuable."


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Michael Cohen seen leaving federal court in New York 

Cohen attorney Lanny Davis said his client had information that would be of interest to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating whether the 2016 Trump campaign conspired with Russia to influence the election.

Mr Davis set up a website to collect donations for Cohen's legal expenses.

Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer, speaking on the Senate floor, labeled Mr Trump a "co-conspirator" and demanded that the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, which is scheduled for early September, be delayed in the wake of Cohen's plea.

Mr Trump has granted presidential pardons to conservative commentator Dinesh D'Souza and former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio but Cohen attorney Lanny Davis said his client would not accept a presidential pardon.

"Mr Cohen is not interested in being dirtied by a pardon from such a man," Mr Davis told NPR.

Cohen's plea came as Manafort, who served as chairman of Mr Trump's campaign, was found guilty on eight charges in a separate financial fraud trial in Alexandria, Virginia, stemming from a federal investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 US election and possible coordination with the Trump campaign.

In a morning tweet, Mr Trump said, "I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family. 'Justice' took a 12 year old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on hima nd, unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to 'break' - make up stories in order to get a 'deal.' Such respect for a brave man!"

The Cohen and Manafort cases ratchet up political pressure on Mr Trump and fellow Republicans ahead of November elections, in which Democrats are seeking to regain control of Congress.

The Mueller investigation has clouded Mr Trump's presidency for more than a year and Tuesday's developments increase pressure on him personally.

While Cohen did not name Trump in court on Tuesday, referring to him as "the candidate," Mr Davis has accused the president of being directly involved.

Cohen had "information ... regarding both knowledge of a conspiracy to corrupt American democracy by the Russians and the failure to report that knowledge to the FBI," Mr Davis told MSNBC.

Senator Schumer said he was concerned that Mr Kavanaugh, a federal appeals judge, told him during a meeting that presidents should not be subject to criminal or civil investigations or even be required to comply with related subpoenas while in office and that impeachment by Congress is the only legal recourse.

On the Senate floor, Mr Schumer argued that Mr Trump should not be permitted to select a Supreme Court justice when that justice could ultimately end up hearing a case involving the president.

Mr Schumer said: "A president identified as a co-conspirator of a federal crime, an accusation not made by a political enemy but by the closest of his own confidants, is on the verge of making a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, a court that may someday soon determine the extent of the president’s legal jeopardy".