Stormy Daniels says Donald Trump does not deserve to be jailed over the payment made to her which landed him in court this week on criminal charges.
“I don’t think that his crimes against me are worthy of incarceration,” the adult film actress told Piers Morgan in her first interview since the hearing.
The former US president pleaded not guilty in a Manhattan courtroom to 34 counts of falsifying business records.
The felony charges carry a maximum four-year jail sentence.
Mr Trump’s lawyer paid $130,000 to Ms Daniels before the 2016 election to buy her silence as she was seeking to go public over an alleged affair.
Prosecutors say the way the lawyer was subsequently reimbursed by Mr Trump while he was president amounted to tax deception, because the accounts described the payments as legal expenses.
Ms Daniels told Talk TV’s Piers Morgan Uncensored she did not think he deserved to be put behind bars for what he did.
But she added that if he was found guilty of other crimes then he should be jailed as an example to others.
Mr Trump faces separate criminal investigations for allegedly mishandling classified material, trying to overturn an election in Georgia, and over his role in the storming of the US Capitol building.
When asked if she would testify in the forthcoming trial, Ms Daniels said she “absolutely” would.
“It’s daunting but I look forward to it, I have nothing to hide. I’m the only one who has been telling the truth.”
Her feelings when she saw Mr Trump walk into the courtroom were mixed, she said, but the overriding emotion was sadness.
“He had to be under the rule of someone else, the judge. The king had been dethroned. He’s no longer untouchable.”
The prosecutor bringing the case, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, said trying to disguise the payment to Ms Daniels amounted to defrauding voters by suppressing negative stories on the eve of an election.
Mr Trump denies ever having sexual relations with Ms Daniels and says the payment was made to protect his family from false allegations, not to sway the election.
Legal experts have told the BBC they think it unlikely Mr Trump will be jailed if convicted and a fine is the more likely outcome.
The former president is running again for the White House and the criminal trial next year could disrupt his attempts to seek the Republican nomination.
Republican colleagues have rallied around him since the indictment and attacked Mr Bragg, a Democrat, as carrying out a politically motivated prosecution.