Cohen: ‘I will not be a punching bag’

July 3, 2018

Michael Cohen—President Donald Trump’s longtime personal attorney and a former executive vice president at the Trump Organization—always has insisted that he would remain loyal to the president. In fact, he said he would “take a bullet” for the POTUS just a few months ago. However, speaking exclusively to ABC-TV’s George Stephanopoulos in an in-depth interview that aired on July 2—his first since the FBI raided his office and homes in April

Michael Cohen—President Donald Trump’s longtime personal attorney and a former executive vice president at the Trump Organization—always has insisted that he would remain loyal to the president. In fact, he said he would “take a bullet” for the POTUS just a few months ago. However, speaking exclusively to ABC-TV’s George Stephanopoulos in an in-depth interview that aired on on July 2—his first since the FBI raided his office and homes in April—Cohen strongly signaled his willingness to cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, as well as federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York. Even if that puts President Trump in jeopardy.

“My wife, my daughter and my son have my first loyalty and always will,” Cohen told Stephanopolous for Good Morning America. “I put family and country first.” The 45-minute interview was conducted in advance, on Saturday evening at a Manhattan hotel.

For the first time also, Cohen failed to praise the president during the network interview—and pointedly disagreed with Trump’s criticism of the federal investigations. “When I asked Cohen directly what he would do if prosecutors forced him to choose between protecting the president and protecting his family,” Stephanopolous reported, “he said his family is ‘my first priority.’”

Cohen added: “Once I understand what charges might be filed against me, if any at all, I will defer to my new counsel, Guy Petrillo, for guidance.”

But when the GMA anchor pointed out to Cohen that he wasn’t repeating past vows to “take a bullet” and “do anything” to protect the president, the longtime Trump loyalist left little doubt about where he stands now, saying simply: “To be crystal clear, my wife, my daughter and my son, and this country have my first loyalty.”

Cohen recently retained Petrillo, a highly regarded former federal prosecutor who once led the criminal division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan — the very same office currently conducting the criminal investigation of Cohen.

Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Finally, when Stephanopolous asked Cohen how he might respond if the president or his legal team come after him—to try and discredit him and the work he did for Trump over theplast decade— he sat up straight. His voice gained strength.

“I will not be a punching bag as part of anyone’s defense strategy,” he said emphatically. “I am not a villain of this story, and I will not allow others to try to depict me that way.”

Prosecutors in New York’s Southern District are investigating Cohen for alleged violations of election law and possible financial crimes associated with his personal business dealings. He has not been charged with any crime. But on the advice of his attorney, Cohen declined to address specific questions

Cohen said he hopes that the interview on GMA will be a first step towards his ultimate goal: “Resolution.”

He said, “I want to regain my name and my reputation and my life back.”

Cohen strongly signaled his willingness to cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, as well as federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York. Even if that puts President Trump in jeopardy.

“My wife, my daughter and my son have my first loyalty and always will,” Cohen told Stephanopolous for Good Morning America. “I put family and country first.” The 45-minute interview was conducted in advance, on Saturday evening at a Manhattan hotel.

For the first time also, Cohen failed to praise the president during the network interview—and pointedly disagreed with Trump’s criticism of the federal investigations. “When I asked Cohen directly what he would do if prosecutors forced him to choose between protecting the president and protecting his family,” Stephanopolous reported, “he said his family is ‘my first priority.’”

Cohen added: “Once I understand what charges might be filed against me, if any at all, I will defer to my new counsel, Guy Petrillo, for guidance.”

But when the GMA anchor pointed out to Cohen that he wasn’t repeating past vows to “take a bullet” and “do anything” to protect the president, the longtime Trump loyalist left little doubt about where he stands now, saying simply: “To be crystal clear, my wife, my daughter and my son, and this country have my first loyalty.”

Cohen recently retained Petrillo, a highly regarded former federal prosecutor who once led the criminal division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan — the very same office currently conducting the criminal investigation of Cohen.

Finally, when Stephanopolous asked Cohen how he might respond if the president or his legal team come after him—to try and discredit him and the work he did for Trump over the past decade—he sat up straight. His voice gained strength.

“I will not be a punching bag as part of anyone’s defense strategy,” he said emphatically. “I am not a villain of this story, and I will not allow others to try to depict me that way.”

Prosecutors in New York’s Southern District are investigating Cohen for alleged violations of election law and possible financial crimes associated with his personal business dealings. He has not been charged with any crime. But on the advice of his attorney, Cohen declined to address specific questions

Cohen said he hopes that the interview on GMA will be a first step towards his ultimate goal: “Resolution.”

He said, “I want to regain my name and my reputation and my life back.”

A poll this week by the Conservative Book Club found that 82% of those who use the website do not believe that Cohen will flip.

Research contact: @GMA

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