Trump’s lawyer: Will he flip?
Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s longtime personal attorney, memorably claimed last year that he’d “take a bullet for the president,” said Tina Nguyen in VanityFair.com. “That loyalty is now being put to the test.” Since the FBI’s raids on Cohen’s office, apartment, and hotel room last month, Trump’s allies have grown increasingly nervous that his self-described “fixer” will “flip”—providing prosecutors with incriminating evidence on the president. Cohen has been deeply involved in Trump’s personal and business affairs for more than a decade, paying off alleged mistresses, threatening critics and journalists, and negotiating business deals with Russian oligarchs. Given that the combative lawyer could be facing serious charges carrying long jail terms—including wire fraud, bank fraud, and campaign finance law violations—Trump and his allies see him as a “ticking time bomb.” Jay Goldberg, the president’s divorce lawyer, said last week he’d warned Trump not to trust Cohen an inch—and that on a loyalty scale of 1 to 100, Cohen “isn’t even a 1.”
The loyalty between Cohen and Trump has always been a one-way street, said Maggie Haberman in The New York Times. The lawyer worships his boss, but Trump thinks of him as second-rate, dishing out “gratuitous insults” and “threats of being fired” over failed deals. The president notably declined to make space for Cohen in his administration. Now, though, Trump’s whipping boy has all the “leverage.” That leverage could lead to a presidential pardon, said Eric Levitz in NYMag.com. Trump has already “floated” the idea of pardoning aides caught up in the Russia investigation, and this week tweeted, “I don’t see Michael doing that”—that is, flipping on him. Cohen may wind up with a “‘get out of jail free’ card.”
You know what’s weird about the Cohen story? asked Josh Barro in BusinessInsider.com. Neither Trump nor his defenders are contending Cohen can’t possibly “flip” because he and Trump “never engaged in criminal wrongdoing together.” Instead, everyone around Trump essentially assumes that Cohen must have some serious dirt worth sharing. At the same time, Trump’s allies also are ratcheting up their contention that the president’s personal business affairs—which may be richly detailed in Cohen’s emails and files—are “‘a red line’ that special counsel Robert Mueller must not cross.” That warning—and the allies’ concern about Cohen’s loyalty—may well point to the depth of Trump’s legal jeopardy.