A meme on Facebook misrepresents a year-old comment from former Sen. Orrin Hatch. He did not say, “I don’t care if Trump broke the law.” Hatch said, “I don’t care” about allegations that Trump paid hush money to two women, “because I don’t think he was involved in crimes.”
He didn’t actually say that — it’s a twisted version of something he said nearly a year ago.
In December 2018, a CNN reporter asked Hatch for his reaction to the implication that President Donald Trump was involved in the payment of hush money to two women who said they had affairs with him. The day after the interview, Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, was sentenced to three years in prison for his role in facilitating the payments.
This is the exchange between CNN’s Manu Raju and Hatch:
Raju, Dec. 11, 2018: I’m wondering if you have any concerns about the fact that it was the president who was implicated in two crimes from 2016 involving these payments to women to hide these affairs. Are you concerned about what the federal government is alleging here?
Hatch: Well, I think the Democrats will do anything to hurt this president. Anything. And what happened before he was elected president, you know, is one thing, but since he’s been elected, the economy’s done well, our country’s moving ahead, we’re in better shape than we were before he became president, and I think we ought to judge him on that basis.
Raju: But this is not the Democrats, this is the Southern District of New York, the U.S. Attorney, I mean that’s what’s making this allegation.
Hatch: You think he’s a Republican, do you?
Raju: Well, he’s appointed by the president. He’s an appointee by this president.
Hatch: OK, but… I don’t care. All I can say is he’s doing a good job as president.
Raju: It doesn’t bother you, these crimes that he allegedly was involved in, the president, that doesn’t bother you?
Hatch: No, because I don’t think he was involved in crimes, but, even then, you know, you can make anything a crime under the current laws. If you want to, you blow it way out of proportion — you can do a lot of things. All I can say is this, President Trump before he became president, that’s another world. Since he’s become president, this economy has charged ahead, we’re all better off, the country’s better off, and he’s done a whale of a job. And I think we ought to judge him on that basis, rather than trying to drum up things from the past that may or may not be true.
Raju: So you don’t that… I mean… he’s the president. Shouldn’t he be following the laws, though?
Hatch: Well, you’re talking about things that happened before he became president, too, so, yeah, he should be following the law. We all ought to. On the other hand, when you run for president, no matter what you do, they’ll claim you’re not following the law, so, you know, I’ve seen that when Democrats are president. I’ve seen it when Republicans are president. I think we ought to get to where we support our presidents when they’re right and quit trying to destroy them just for political reasons.
At the time, several left-leaning online publications paraphrased Hatch’s comments this way: “‘I don’t care’ if Trump broke the law.” The meme now circulating online has taken that interpretation of Hatch’s remarks and presented it as fact. It’s not.
Hatch actually said the president should follow the law, but he didn’t think that Trump committed a crime.
Herb, Jeremy. “GOP shrugs at Trump’s involvement in Cohen crimes.” CNN. 11 Dec 2018.
Einenkel, Walter. “Most senior Republican senator says ‘I don’t care’ if Trump broke the law.” Daily Kos. 13 Dec 2018.