Tuesday, July 3, 2018
After once boasting he would “take a bullet” for Donald Trump, the president’s longtime personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen fired a possible warning shot toward the White House, saying he now puts “family and country first.”
In his first interview since federal agents raided his home and hotel room three months ago as part of an investigation into his business dealings, Cohen made clear that protecting Trump is not his priority.
“My wife, my daughter and my son have my first loyalty and always will,” Cohen told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos in an off-camera interview that was reported on Monday’s “Good Morning America.” ‘’I put family and country first.”
Cohen, who hasn’t been charged, wouldn’t say if he would cooperate with prosecutors in the probe. But he also did nothing to dampen such speculation, taking issue with some of Trump’s criticisms of the special counsel’s Russia investigation and even going out of his way to praise the FBI.
“I don’t agree with those who demonize or vilify the FBI,” Cohen was quoted as saying. The raid, he added, “was obviously upsetting to me and my family. Nonetheless, the agents were respectful, courteous and professional.”
Robert Mintz, a former federal prosecutor now in private practice, said that Cohen “has sent every signal he possibly can to prosecutors that he will put his own interests first and will jump at any deal that may save him from going to jail.”
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders would not comment on whether the president was concerned about the possibility Cohen would strike a deal with prosecutors.
The Cohen interview was released the same day a former federal judge vetting material seized from him said in a court filing that over a million items were turned over to prosecutors after she determined they weren’t protected by attorney-client privilege.
Cohen was Trump’s self-described fixer and a key player in the Trump Organization for more than a decade, regularly berating reporters and threatening lawsuits against anyone who posed a challenge to his boss.
In a Fox News interview last year, Cohen declared: “I will do anything to protect Mr. Trump.” He also told Vanity Fair, “I’m the guy who would take a bullet for the president,” adding, “I’d never walk away.”