Andy Cohen is explaining comments he made previously about Jen Shah, the “Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” cast member who was recently sentenced to prison for her participation in a fraudulent scheme.
The clarification came after CNN host Chris Wallace grilled Cohen, 54, about his previous comments, speaking to the “Watch What Happens Live” host in a recent interview.
Wallace seemingly referred to a November US Weekly interview in which Cohen said he hoped Shah would not get jail time.
“Why would you take her side against the thousands of people she defrauded?” Wallace asked Cohen in their interview, which aired Jan. 15.
“I think I was hoping that she was actually innocent,” Cohen responded. “I wouldn’t have —”
“She pleaded guilty,” Wallace interjected.
“That was before she pled guilty, that I said that, I would think?” Cohen said.
“No, I think it was after,” Wallace said.
Cohen told Wallace, “Look, I don’t know what the context of me saying that was, but I think that the context was, people kept demanding of me, what is her status with the show? And I’m like, it’s up to the judge. She’s about to get sentenced to a lot of jail time.”
On Jan. 17, Cohen further clarified his previous statements about Shah in a video in his Instagram story.
“I got a lot of comments yesterday about the Chris Wallace interview,” he said.
“The thing that’s getting picked up is that I said that I didn’t think Jen Shah deserved jail time, or I didn’t want her to get jail time, or something like that. I just want to clarify the context of what I said,” he added.
“I was saying it in response to people wanting to know if she was going to be back on the show,” he continued.
“I knew that there had to be some context, and I should have asked (Wallace) what it was because the context is different from the quote on its own, as often happens,” Cohen concluded.
He then shared a screenshot of his quote to US Weekly about Shah from November 2022.
“She’s being sentenced on Dec. 15, so I don’t know what to say to people who want her on the show,” he told the publication at the time. “I hope that she gets no jail time whatsoever and she can come right back … but I have a feeling that she’s not going to be available to be on the show.”
Shah, 49, was sentenced to more than six years in prison earlier this month after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
The reality star was charged with participating in a telemarketing scheme that defrauded hundreds of people around the United States, according to a March 2021 press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
As part of the scheme, Shah and her assistant allegedly sold “lead lists” of contacts that their associates would then reach out to with “so-called business opportunities” that were, in reality, “just fraudulent schemes,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a March 2021 statement.
Shah was arrested in 2021 while filming the second season of “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City.”