The song is blaring and the game of musical chairs has begun. The various characters in the Trump Cinematic Universe are trying to position themselves for the moment in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation where the music stops. One such dramatis persona is Michael Cohen, the president’s longtime fixer at the Trump Organization whose home, offices, and New York hotel room have recently been paid a visit by the FBI—and had a lifetime of shady business dealings tossed into very public view.
It appears Cohen is trying to find himself a chair, which means doing an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos and telling him stuff like this:
That last part is pretty silly—Cohen was taking half-million-dollar payments from Russian oligarchs after Trump’s election into an LLC he also used to pay off Stormy Daniels. Is that a patriotic American’s contribution to The National Interest? But the former seems to be a clear message that Cohen is willing to cooperate with federal investigators. It’s a far cry from his one-time boast that he was “the guy who would take a bullet” for Trump. Probably better to leave that part behind now that the legal bullets are really flying.
This seems to be of particular concern to Trump. In Normal President fashion, he unleashed a tweetstorm about how Cohen did his own thing and didn’t know much about Trump’s dealings, but also would never flip on him, which is something you think about when the guy knows nothing about your business:
The New York Times and a third rate reporter named Maggie Haberman, known as a Crooked H flunkie who I don’t speak to and have nothing to do with, are going out of their way to destroy Michael Cohen and his relationship with me in the hope that he will “flip.” They use….
….non-existent “sources” and a drunk/drugged up loser who hates Michael, a fine person with a wonderful family. Michael is a businessman for his own account/lawyer who I have always liked & respected. Most people will flip if the Government lets them out of trouble, even if….
….it means lying or making up stories. Sorry, I don’t see Michael doing that despite the horrible Witch Hunt and the dishonest media!
This is a festival of lies, from the idea Trump doesn’t talk to The New York Times‘ Maggie Haberman—he does—to the idea Trump’s fixer wasn’t involved in his business. It also seems Trump might have been wrong on the flipping front, as Cohen repeated his position to Stephanopoulos:
Cohen has hired new legal counsel in Guy Petrillo, former head of the criminal division in the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York—the same outfit investigating Cohen now. (Separately, in Washington, Mueller is looking into at least two episodes involving Cohen and Russian interests, according to The Washington Post.) The hire will see the joint defense agreement shared by Cohen and the president—again, not something you’d share with some guy who knows nothing about your business—ended.
That means the legal interests of the two could easily diverge, and Trump’s team may soon attempt to find a bus to throw Cohen under.
Cohen might not be the Lex Luthor here, but any attempt to recast himself as an innocent bystander in all of this ought to fall on deaf ears. Cohen did not just negotiate the $130,000 hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, who alleges she had an affair with the president. Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, suggested Cohen threatened his client directly. And separately, someone arranged for a man to visit Daniels in a Las Vegas parking lot and threaten her in front of her child.
And then there’s what we know about how Cohen deals with members of the free press:
President Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, is facing legal peril. But Cohen is usually the one using legal pressure to fix issues for Trump. NPR now has audio of him doing it: https://t.co/F759SF6p8R pic.twitter.com/zNYhHayxQO
Let’s not pretend this is the only time Cohen talked like this—or that he probably hasn’t gone much farther when dealing with people who don’t have a public platform and a recorder at the ready. We will probably get a fuller picture of what he was capable of in the coming weeks and months, and it’s unlikely to be pretty. He may be willing to flip and cooperate with investigators, but that’s exactly the opposite of innocence.