Michael Cohen: I Am Putting My Family And Country Before Donald Trump
In an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos on Saturday, Donald Trump’s longtime personal attorney, Michael Cohen, sent the clearest signal yet he’s prepared to flip on the president, telling the host he’s putting his family and country first.
Cohen sat down with Stephanopoulos at a Manhattan hotel he’s been staying at for several months, teasing the interview in a tweet posted Sunday night. According to the ABC News host, Cohen said he’ll defer to his counsel, Guy Petrillo, once he understands what charges might be filed.
"To be crystal clear, my wife, my daughter and my son, and this country have my first loyalty,” Cohen said.
His comment signals a broader shift from Trump’s “fixer’s” former position, including that he would “take a bullet” for Trump. Last month, the Wall Street Journal, citing a source close to Cohen said ”if they want information on Trump, he's willing to give it.” He even criticized Trump’s border policy in a letter resigning from the Republican National Committee.
"I will not be a punching bag as part of anyone’s defense strategy," Cohen said. "I am not a villain of this story, and I will not allow others to try to depict me that way.”
Cohen also criticized hits former boss’ posturing toward special counsel Robert Mueller, who Trump has accused of leading “13 angry Democrats” in the “greatest witch hunt in political history.”
“I respect the prosecutors,” Cohen said. “I respect the process”
“I don’t agree with those who demonize or vilify the FBI. I respect the FBI as an institution, as well as their agents,” Cohen later said. “When they searched my hotel room and my home, it was obviously upsetting to me and my family. Nonetheless, the agents were respectful, courteous and professional. I thanked them for their service and as they left, we shook hands.”
"I don’t like the term witch hunt,” he said, telling Stephanopoulos he repudiates “Russia’s or any other foreign government’s attempt to interfere or meddle in our democratic process.”
“Simply accepting the denial of Mr. Putin is unsustainable,” Cohen argued, adding he respects the “unanimous conclusions” of “our nation’s intelligence agencies.’”
Cohen also appeared to change his position on his $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels, an adult film star who says she had an affair with the president. The lawyer had previously said he made the payment on his own volition—this time, he deferred to his counsel.
“I want to answer,” he said. “One day I will answer. But for now, I can’t comment further on advice of my counsel.”
Cohen also criticized the participants at that now-infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting arranged to obtain dirt on Hillary Clinton.
“I believe it was a mistake by those from the Trump campaign who did participate,” he said. "It was simply an example of poor judgment.”