Trump: Michael Cohen will never flip on me

Jerry Adler
Senior Editor
Michael Cohen, President Trump’s personal attorney, arrives at federal court in New York on April 16. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

President Trump’s simmering anger over the criminal investigation of his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, finally found an outlet Saturday: an article in the New York Times suggesting that Cohen’s loyalty to the president might break under the threat of an indictment.

In a series of tweets starting around 6 a.m. ET, Trump attacked a front-page Times article headlined (in the print edition) “Punching Bag for President Has New Clout,” and (on the website): “Michael Cohen Has Said He Would Take a Bullet for Trump. Maybe Not Anymore.” Trump fired off the tweets from his Mar-a-Lago estate in South Florida, where he has spent much of the week.

Both versions make the point that Cohen, who, according to the article, has been the object of Trump’s bullying, now may be in a position to give prosecutors evidence they could use against Trump in court. The article cites Trump’s confidant Roger Stone as saying: “Donald goes out of his way to treat him [Cohen] like garbage.”

Trump has reportedly been told he is not a “target” of the investigation in the Southern District of New York, and it is not known what Cohen might be able to tell prosecutors, or what was seized in the April 9 FBI raid of his home and office. The raid is believed to have focused on Cohen’s role in paying off the adult actress Stormy Daniels not to discuss her relationship with Trump. However, Cohen has been a high-ranking executive in the Trump Organization and describes himself as the president’s “fixer.”

Aides to the president have described him as furious over the search of Cohen’s records and obsessed with the case. His tweets began with an attack on one of the reporters on the story, claiming he doesn’t speak to her.

In fact, the reporter, Maggie Haberman, has been one of the reporters Trump has spoken to the most, including an on-the-record Oval Office interview.

Cohen hasn’t been indicted for anything (although his own lawyer said Friday he expects he will be), so the issue of cooperation with the government presumably hasn’t arisen. But a number of people close to Trump, including his former lawyer Jay Goldberg and the legal scholar Alan Dershowitz, warned the president in the past week not to count on Cohen’s loyalty in the face of a possible jail term.

In referring to Cohen as “a businessman for his own account,” Trump seemed to be attempting to distance himself from Cohen’s affairs. Cohen does have his own interests in real estate and taxi medallions, but he was deeply involved in deals for the Trump Organization, including its efforts to build a tower in Moscow as recently as 2015.

The president didn’t specify who he meant by a “drunk/drugged up loser who hates Michael,” but in a tweet a few hours later, Haberman offered her opinion that he was referring to his former aide Sam Nunberg. It was also unclear why Trump  claimed to have “nothing to do with” Haberman, who covers the president regularly for the Times. Her colleague Michael S. Schmidt tweeted this photo, showing Haberman with the president, shortly after Trump’s tweetstorm:

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