He said that for Trump he was putting himself in front of a bullet. He believed that admiration and friendship were mutual. When he got into trouble, he asked for her hand. Now he feels betrayed and no one knows what damage the secrets he has to tell the FBI can make to the President of the United States.
In the last decade, Michael Cohen was Donald Trump’s personal lawyer and his hand man. He was an ardent subordinate, performing all the wishes of the celebrity to whom he worked in the eagerness to receive praise and affection. He said he was leading a bullet through Trump, and even when the President did not give him a White House position, he continued to devote eternal loyalty to him.
But even in Trump’s world, eternity has its limits.
In releasing the recordings he made behind the scenes of conversations with Trump about buying rights to release a story about an extramarital affair with a Playboy model, Cohen made the definitive decision to break ties with his long-time client. The move underscores the deterioration of Cohen’s relationship with Trump and raises concerns in the White House over the possibility that the former lawyer – under investigation due to suspected irregularities linked to funding Donald Trump’s election campaign in 2016 – could pass secrets about the President to the FBI.
In the nearly four months that have passed since the federal police (FBI) searched the attorney’s offices, home, and hotel room , Cohen waited for a phone call or other sign of support from Trump, who never arrived, and felt injured and abandoned. According to his neighbors, Cohen was frustrated when Trump started talking about him in the past, panicking last month when he thought the President no longer wanted to hear from him and getting furious when Trump’s new lawyer “Rudy” Giuliani , contradicted some of his statements.
In Cohen’s most difficult hour, one of his co-workers said, Trump “was abandoning him to beasts.”
The result is the state of open warfare between the lawyer and his former client. Cohen decided to go from being Trump’s staunch defender to being the paladin of truth, not wanting to know the possible political or legal ramifications for the President, says Davis, one of Cohen’s defense lawyers.
“He had to press the ‘delete’ button,” Davis said in an interview. “He had to say he respects the FBI. He had to say that he believes in the secret services when they say that Russia interfered in the elections. It had to be said that the meetings at Trump Tower were, at best, a miscalculation. In the end, he had to say, ‘I’m not going to be the spanking anymore’ he said he was when he uttered the phrase ‘I put myself in front of a bullet …’
Cohen’s decisions appear to be more motivated by being offended by the President’s indifference and by the sense of betrayal – coupled with the financial weight of the process in which he is pursued, led by federal prosecutors – than by a legal strategy or help.
On Tuesday, the release of the recordings between Trump-Cohen surprised prosecutors in the Cohen case, sources close to the suit said. Lawyers and detectives who have, for the time being or in the past questioned Cohen – someone seen as prepared to get a settlement – questioned why he decided to make public material that could be considered evidence. As a rule, this type of play irritates the investigators and makes the agreements more difficult, the same sources said.
In the process of investigating campaign finances, federal investigators showed interest in understanding what interactions the lawyer had with the campaign, including his role in resolving misconduct allegations made by several women. They are also trying to figure out if anyone besides Cohen knew of two cases, Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, before they appeared in the news and reports.
Under the search warrant, and according to a source close to the case, the investigators asked Cohen to provide data on communications between the two, or between attorney and campaign members, about the 2005 recording of “Access Hollywood” in which Trump says he grabs certain parts of the female body.
Inside the White House, Trump was furious with the disclosure of Cohen’s September 2016 talk about funding McDougal’s deal with American Media Inc. (owner of the National Enquirer ) to sell the story of a suspected case which he had for ten months with Trump; the story has never been published.
The President is angry that his lawyer has recorded conversations between the two, but he knew before last week that the recording existed, sources close to Trump said. “What kind of lawyer records your client?” Trump asked on Twitter. “A sadness”.
The government has seized more than one hundred recordings of talks between Cohen and other people talking about issues that may be related to Trump and his business, two people familiar with the recordings said. Everything indicates that Cohen did some of the recordings on the iPhone – without telling anyone that he was recording them. A significant part of it is recordings surreptitiously given to reporters who met him to talk about Trump during the campaign and after the election, both sources said.
Trump’s voice is in several recordings, but only in snippets – especially when he returns Cohen’s calls or when he leaves a voicemail message asking the lawyer to call him. The only aggravation in which Trump and Cohen have what can be called conversation is disclosed on Tuesday, according to these two sources.
“Michael Cohen was in the habit of using the phone to record conversations instead of taking notes,” said Davis, his lawyer. “It was never your intention to use them and I certainly never wanted to fool anyone.”
Trump’s advisers are debating privately whether to ask the court dealing with this indiscriminate leakage of media footage , or if they disclose material they describe as unfavorable to Cohen, allied the President.
Trump has asked consultants from outside the White House about Cohen’s business and about his work for other clients. The President considers Cohen a turncoat who took advantage of his association with Trump, some close friends said. One of them explained Trump’s thinking about what is happening: “Who does this guy think he is to betray me? If it were not me he was nobody. ”
Another problem that worries Trump is the impact of the revelations on his marriage, as accusations of infidelity have made headlines in the media , explained a Republican operative who has frequent contact with the White House. The alleged case with McDougal happened shortly after their third marriage with Melania and the birth of their son Barron in 2006.
Stephanie Grisham, the spokeswoman for the first lady, issued a statement saying that “it’s a bit silly” that journalists worry that she might have “overheard the recording on the news” and that she should pay attention to others topics, for example bullying , one of the themes that Melania has dedicated herself to.
I’m afraid of the White House.
In Trump’s political orbit, his allies are worried that Cohen may have other data that could harm the President – and whether he will use them, as it now seems likely, or highly likely.
“The widespread feeling inside and outside the building is that if there’s anything else, this is the man who knows, and now he’s going to tell it all,” a White House official said.
Trump’s legal team considers Cohen’s play inexplicable because he says the release of the recordings does not compromise the President – they question his purpose.
Some of Trump’s staunchest supporters believe that by hiring Lanny Davis, a Democrat friend and adviser to Bill and Hillary Clinton for decades, Cohen betrayed the President. In February, Hillary attended the Davis Book Launch Party The Unmaking of the President 2016: How FBI Director James Comey Cost Hillary Clinton the Presidenc y (anything like “Dismantle the 2016 elections: how FBI director James Comey prevented the election of Hillary Clinton “).
On Wednesday morning, Trump’s aides and allies exchanged messages commenting on the Cohen-Davis relationship, and Fox News’s “Fox and Friends” hosts Fox’s pro-Trump morning show, harshly criticized Cohen.
“We all think he’s being used by Lanny, who has a vendetta ,” said Trump’s former advisor Sam Nunberg, who worked for years with Cohen.
Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who is now one of Trump’s personal lawyers, has been “beating” Cohen for – as he said in a tweet on Wednesday – “to disclose secret information about false justice and confidential information “. “What a lack of ethics.”
A man alone
Davis said that Cohen feels isolated, that he is “in pain” and that “he sees himself as a man alone against the President of the United States, Rudy Giuliani and the entire Administration.”
Cohen’s disagreement with Trump can make him the accidental hero of a resistance movement. Davis recalled that on Wednesday, after being interviewed on ABC, he crossed Pennsylvania Station in New York, and people applauded him, patted him on the back and said, “Please tell Michael Cohen.” Thank you for tell the truth’. Suddenly, Michael Cohen is a hope for millions of people. ”
With the April 9 search warrant, Cohen found that he was the subject of a federal investigation into bank fraud and suspicion of violation of the campaign finance law because of his informal role in Trump’s campaign. FBI agents were scrutinizing whether he had lied in bank documents or whether he had evidence with him that he inflated the value of his taxi business to get larger loans. The lawyer told friends he hoped to be arrested early in the summer.
Shortly after the search, Cohen expressed interest in speaking directly to Trump, but repeatedly and tenaciously the lawyers blocked his access, so they did not seem to agree to give the same version of the story. Trump’s lawyers said the President ran the political risk of being accused of comparing notes with a witness who had embarrassing information about him.
Trump telephoned Cohen four days after the searches, spoke very briefly, as The New York Times reported , but they never spoke again.
In June, Cohen received what he considered a sign that Trump had turned his back on him, according to a witness. After the searches, the Trump Organization and Cohen agreed that Trump’s companies would pay a portion of the legal costs related to the work done to ascertain that documents seized were protected by professional secrecy and should not be given to investigators.
But a few months later, the Trump Organization declined to pay and complained about the unusually high fees billed by Cohen’s law firm – the case remains in dispute. And Cohen complained to his friends about his accounts with lawyers who were getting louder and told them he was afraid he was being put out of Trump’s world.
Some argue that Cohen was trying to wrest from Trump a commitment that he would receive a presidential pardon if he faced criminal charges. But Davis said in interviews that his client is not looking for a pardon, and Giuliani told The Washington Post on Tuesday night that talking about it “was totally inappropriate at the moment.”
In his decade in Trump’s service – first as a lawyer for the Trump Organization and later as a personal lawyer for the real estate mogul – Cohen showed his loyalty. Partly because of the nature of the work he did for Trump, which was not that of a normal legal counsel. Cohen described his work as that of facilitator, someone who makes problems disappear.
But respect and dedication were not mutual, according to Tim O’Brien, author of the Trump Nation biography . “He always treated Michael like a puppy, someone who did things for him, but never considered him as one of his peers or treated him with respect,” O’Brien said. “We always got the feeling that Michael was trying to make the pater familias happy, and that Trump was always shouting orders at him.”
Cohen’s loyalty to Trump began to fade over the past few months as he felt neglected by his longtime master.
Last week, Cohen invited Reverend Al Sharpton, a civil rights advocate who has been hanging out with Trump for breakfast at the Regency hotel where he has been. Cohen chose a table in the middle of the room of this restaurant where one goes to see and be seen, Sharpton recalled.
“He’s completely against it,” Sharpton said. “It was clear to me, after our conversation, that Michael feels betrayed. He kept repeating: ‘I will do what is right for this country’. He was clearly telling me that he is no longer part of Trump’s group. ” He added, “He was injured and now he is embittered.” He said to me, “You see what I’m going through.
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