Posts tagged with "Michael Cohen"

A racist, a con man, and a cheat: Michael Cohen characterizes Donald Trump in House testimony

February 28, 2019

President Donald Trump’s former “fixer” and personal attorney Michael Cohen appeared before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on February 27 to “correct the record.”

In the process, Cohen characterized his former boss as “a racist, a con man, and a cheat”—and said he regretted his loyalty to the man for whom he had worked for ten years.

Cohen admitted last year that he lied to the House Intelligence Committee in his September 2017 testimony about his machinations on behalf of the Trump Organization.

Specifically, he misrepresented facts about the timing of his negotiations with the Kremlin for a Moscow Trump Tower; as well as about Trump’s relationships with Felix Sater and Roger Stone, who are targets of the Russia investigation; about a “massive dump” of Democratic National Committee emails; and about payoffs to Trump’s paramours.

Cohen also said that he was in the room both when Stone told Trump via speaker phone that the email dump was coming shortly; and when Donald Trump, Jr., told his father that he had confirmed the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting that would provide “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.

“I am ashamed that I chose to take part in concealing Mr. Trump’s illicit acts rather than listening to my own conscience,” Cohen said in his own opening statement. adding, “ I am ashamed because I know what Mr. Trump is. He is a racist. He is a conman. He is a cheat. He was a presidential candidate who knew that Roger Stone was talking with Julian Assange about a WikiLeaks drop of Democratic National Committee emails.

Cohen admitted, “Mr. Trump did not directly tell me to lie to Congress. That’s not how he operates. In conversations we had during the campaign, at the same time I was actively negotiating in Russia for him, he would look me in the eye and tell  me there’s no business in Russia and then go out and lie to the American people by saying the same thing. In his way, he was telling me to lie. There were at least a half-dozen times between the Iowa Caucus in January 2016 and the end of June when he would ask me ‘How’s it going in Russia?’– referring to the Moscow Tower project.”

He added, “You need to know that Mr. Trump’s personal lawyers reviewed and edited my statement to Congress about the timing of the Moscow Tower negotiations before I gave it.”

In discussing his career at the Trump Organization, Cohen said, “At first, I worked mostly on real estate developments and other business transactions. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Trump brought me into his personal life and private dealings. Over time, I saw his true character revealed.”

Among the tidbits that he dropped about the president’s character during his testimony are the following:

  • “Donald Trump is a man who ran for office to make his brand great, not to make our country great,” Cohen testified. “He had no desire or intention to lead this nation—only to market himself and to build his wealth and power. Mr. Trump would often say, this campaign was going to be the ‘greatest infomercial in political history.’”
  • While Cohen was in a limousine with Trump, driving through a struggling neighborhood in Chicago, Trump commented that only black people could live that way. “And, he told me that black people would never vote for him because they were too stupid,” Cohen said.
  • Trump directed Cohen to find a straw bidder to purchase a portrait of him that was being auctioned at an Art Hamptons event. The objective was to ensure that his portrait, which was going to be auctioned last, would go for the highest price of any portrait that afternoon. The portrait was purchased by the fake bidder for $60,000. “Mr. Trump [then] directed the Trump Foundation, which is supposed to be a charitable organization, to repay the fake bidder, despite keeping the art for himself,” Cohen said.
  • Trump directed Cohen “to call business owners, many of whom were small businesses, that were owed money for their services and [tell] them no payment or a reduced payment would be coming. When I advised Mr. Trump of my success, he actually reveled in it.”
  • “He asked me to pay off an adult film star with whom he had an affair, and to lie to his wife about it, which I did. Lying to the First Lady is one of my biggest regrets. She is a kind, good person. I respect her greatly—and she did not deserve that,” Cohen said.
  • Trump tasked Cohen with handling the negative press surrounding his medical deferment from the Vietnam draft. “Mr. Trump claimed it was because of a bone spur, but when I asked for medical records, he gave me none and said there was no surgery,” Cohen remarked. “He told me not to answer the specific questions by reporters, but rather offer simply the fact that he received a medical deferment. He finished the conversation with the following comment. ‘You think I’m stupid? I wasn’t going to Vietnam.’

Cohen was reviled by the Republican members of the committee, who said they wondered why they were listening to additional testimony from a convicted liar who would be going to prison soon.

In addition to apologizing for his lies, Cohen stated, “I am not a perfect man. I have done things I am not proud of, and I will live with the consequences of my actions for the rest of my life. But today, I get to decide the example I set for my children and how I attempt to change how history will remember me. I may not be able to change the past, but I can do right by the American people here today.”

Research contact: @RepCummings

Warner counters Burr: Committee cannot rule on collusion until investigation wraps up

February 14, 2019

Senator Mark Warner of Virginia—who serves as the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee—broke ranks on February 12 with committee Chair Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina. Warner contested his Republican colleague’s assessment that the panel had found no evidence of collusion to date during its inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Respectfully, I disagree,” Warner said, according to CNN. “I’m not going to get into any conclusions I’ve reached because my basis of this has been that I’m not going to reach any conclusion until we finish the investigation. And we still have a number of the key witnesses to come back.”

His statement came just hours before President Donald Trump’s former “fixer” and personal lawyer Michael Cohen told the committee that he would defer his testimony “due to post-surgery medical needs.”

Cohen had been subpoenaed by the committee on January 24 as a key source of information on the campaign’s contacts with Russia—one of the few individuals with a behind-the-doors perspective on Trump’s campaign machinations—but he has backed out three times. At least one of those times, Cohen claimed he was reluctant to talk  because of “ongoing threats against his family from President Trump and Mr. [Rudolph] Giuliani.”

On Tuesday night, CNN reported, Burr told reported on Capitol Hill, “I can assure you that any goodwill that might have existed in the committee with Michael Cohen is now gone.”

Burr reiterated that his committee had “no factual evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia,” but that he wanted to interview Cohen before the former lawyer for President Donald Trump reports to federal prison next month.

“I would prefer to get him before he goes to prison, but you know, the way he’s positioning himself, not coming (to) the committee, we may help him go to prison,” Burr said.

However, Cohen’s lawyer Lanny Davis said the surgery excuse was accurate. “Mr. Cohen was expected to and continues to suffer from severe post shoulder surgery pain, as confirmed by a letter from his surgeon, which was sent to Senator Burr and Senator [Mark] Warner,” Davis said. “The medication Mr. Cohen is currently taking made it impossible for him to testify this week.”

The split in public comments between Burr and Warner marked a rare instance of a partisan divide between the two committee leaders.

Another panel member, Senator Angus King (I-Maine), backed Warner up, telling The Hill that the Intelligence Committee “has not concluded anything.”

“Several of the individual members have made statements, but I certainly am not prepared to make a statement as to what was found or not found,” he said.

Warner told CNN that lawmakers are still hoping to speak with a few witnesses, including Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen. The longtime Trump associate was scheduled to testify Tuesday, but postponed his appearance, citing medical reasons after a recent shoulder surgery.

Trump has repeatedly maintained that his campaign did not collude with Russia and he has welcomed Burr’s  comments as proof of that fact.

Research contact: @jeremyherb

Dems vow to ‘get to the bottom’ of allegations that Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress

January 21, 2019

President Donald Trump directed his longtime former personal  attorney and “fixer” Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, according to two federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter, BuzzFeed reported late on January 17.

The story, which invalidates Trump’s ongoing claim that he had no business deals with Russia—and apprehends him in a maneuver to mislead federal legislators—exposes the president to criminal culpability, like he has never been before.

Indeed, according to The Washington Post, Democrats in Congress vowed on January 18 to thoroughly investigate the new report—with Representative Jerry Nadler (D-New York), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee,  vowing that his panel would “get to the bottom” of the allegations.

Early on Friday, Nadler tweeted, “We know that the President has engaged in a long pattern of obstruction. Directing a subordinate to lie to Congress is a federal crime. The @HouseJudiciary Committee’s job is to get to the bottom of it, and we will do that work.”

Representative Adam B. Schiff (D-California), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, released a formal statement, asserting, ““It is now alleged that the president … directed Michael Cohen to lie under oath to Congress about these matters in an effort to impede the investigation and to cover up his business dealings with Russia. These allegations may prove unfounded, but, if true, they would constitute both the subornation of perjury as well as obstruction of justice.

“Our committee,” said Schiff, “is already working to secure additional witness testimony and documents related to the Trump Tower Moscow deal and other investigative matters. As a counterintelligence concern of the greatest magnitude, and given that these alleged efforts were intended to interfere with our investigation, our Committee is determined to get to the bottom of this and follow the evidence wherever it may lead.”

In his first public comments on the report, Trump went on Twitter on Friday morning to quote a Fox News reporter, Kevin Corke, as saying, “Don’t forget, Michael Cohen has already been convicted of perjury and fraud, and as recently as this week, the Wall Street Journal has suggested that he may have stolen tens of thousands of dollars….”

“Lying to reduce his jail time!” Trump added in his own words.

According to the BuzzFeed report, the special counsel’s office learned about Trump’s directive for Cohen to lie through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and what BuzzFeed described as “a cache of other documents.”

Cohen then acknowledged those instructions during his interviews with the special counsel’s office, BuzzFeed reported.

In a statement, Lanny J. Davis, a legal communications adviser to Cohen, said that both he and Cohen are declining to respond to reporters’ questions “out of respect for Mr. Mueller’s and the Office of Special Counsel’s investigation.”

Research contact: jason.leopold@buzzfeed.com

CNN poll: 50% of Americans think probe will implicate the president

December 12, 2018

As Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election focuses in on the denizens of the White House, approval of the president’s conduct has dwindled—matching its all-time low in CNN polling, the cable news network reported on December 11.

In the new poll, Trump’s approval rating for handling the Russia investigation has dipped to 29%, matching a low previously hit in June of this year.

The findings, from a poll fielded on behalf of CNN by SSRS, come as half of Americans say they think it is likely that the Mueller investigation will implicate the president in wrongdoing.

The survey was conducted December 6-9—at a time when court filings in cases against Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen revealed the alleged lies that Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman and former personal lawyer, respectively, told either publicly or to the special counsel’s investigators.

President Trump claimed last weekend that the filings by the SCO and the federal court in the Southern District of New York cleared him of any wrongdoing and called for the investigation to end, CNBC reports.

However, the news outlet says, the Cohen filing implicates Trump in the scheme to pay off at least two women who alleged they had had affairs with Trump in order to keep them silent during the campaign; and the Manafort filing suggests the former campaign chair continued to lie about his contacts with the White House this year.

Interestingly enough, Mueller’s approval rating also is down in the poll: 43% approve and 40% disapprove. That compares to a 48% approve to 36% disapprove split in early October. The dip in Mueller’s numbers comes almost entirely among Independents, among whom approval has fallen 10 points to 36%. Among partisans on both sides, Mueller’s approval holds about even with where it was in an October survey: 71% of Democrats approve as do 21% of Republicans.

Trump’s approval rating drop, however, comes among his own partisans as well as among independents. Among Republicans, 51% approve of Trump’s handling of the investigation, a new low by one point, while among independents, 26% approve, also a new low. Just 15% of Democrats approve of the president’s handling of the investigation, up from October but about on par with the level who felt that way earlier this year.

Overall, a majority (54%) continue to say that most of the things Trump has said publicly about the Russia investigation are false, while just over one-third say they are mostly true (36%). That’s largely unchanged since August.

There has also been no meaningful change on whether the investigation itself is a serious matter or mainly an effort to discredit Trump’s presidency: 59% say it’s a serious matter, 35% an effort to discredit Trump.

Half of Americans think it is very or somewhat likely that the Mueller investigation will implicate Trump personally in wrongdoing. That figure is higher among Democrats (78% say it’s likely), but still, nearly a quarter of Republicans think Trump is likely to be personally implicated (23%) as do about half of independents (47%). Aside from partisanship there’s a stark divide here by education among whites, with 58% of whites with college degrees saying they think Trump is likely to be implicated vs. 43% of whites without degrees.

Looking at Michael Cohen’s recent revelation that work continued on a potential project in Russia during the 2016 campaign, 44% believe Trump acted unethically in considering projects in Russia during the campaign, 26% say it was unwise but not unethical, and 23% say there was nothing wrong with Trump’s action.

Trump’s overall approval rating for handling the presidency matches its pre-election level just about exactly, 39% approve and 52% disapprove. Trump’s favorability rating is also steady at 40% favorable to 55% unfavorable.

Research contact: @jennagiesta

Michael Avenatti says credible, new Kavanaugh witness will come forward by Thursday

September 26, 2018

Judge Brett Kavanaugh said on Fox News on September 24 that he’s “not going anywhere,” despite the claims of at least two women that he sexually harassed one and sexually attacked the other during his college and high school days, respectively.

The declaration represents a very unusual public defense by a Supreme Court nominee of his fitness to serve, CBS News reported on September 25.

The network news organization also noted that Kavanaugh sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, proclaiming adamantly that he “would not be intimidated into withdrawing.”

However, on the same night, Michael Avenatti—the lawyer who took down “ fixer” Michael Cohen over a payoff to Stormy Daniels and, in doing so, implicated the president—appeared on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show to say that he had more incriminating information from a very credible witness that would be released before the new round of hearings on Thursday.

Specifically, on Fox, Kavanaugh strongly denied allegations of sexual misconduct from Christine Blasey Ford—now a psychologist at Palo Alto University—who attended a “sister school” (the Holton-Arms School in Bethesda, Maryland) to his own boys-only high school, Georgetown Prep.

He also refuted the accusations of one of his classmates at Yale University, Deborah Ramirez, who claimed that he had exposed himself to her after an evening of drinking games  (Today, Ramirez is a board member and volunteer at Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence, an organization that helps victims of domestic violence.)

Kavanaugh insisted that he was not a rowdy teen and claimed he was a virgin during the years in question. “I was focused on academics and athletics and going to church every Sunday at Little Flower, working on my service projects and friendship,” Kavanaugh said.

But, CBS News said, his yearbook page repeatedly referenced drinking and in a statement, his former Yale roommate reportedly described Kavanaugh as “a notably heavy drinker” who “became aggressive and belligerent when he was very drunk.” The former Yale roommate James Roche admits he “did not observe” Ramirez’s account firsthand but that he believes her.

According to the CBS report, Avenatti says that he has a client who knew Kavanaugh in high school and accused him of setting up girls to be raped.

“When the American people hear from her, they will determine, as I have, that she is to be believed,” Avenatti said during a press conference Monday evening. Kavanaugh called that claim outrageous.

Avennati has not identified the accuser yet. but said that her name will be revealed within the next 48 hours. He offered some details on her background, including that she worked for the U.S. Mint, Justice Department,  and State Department.

Research contact: @nancycordes

Trump tied to Cohen’s guilty plea; Manafort considers next steps

August 23, 2018

“If anyone is looking for a good lawyer, I would strongly suggest that you don’t retain the services of Michael Cohen!” President Donald Trump tweeted early on August 22, following a day in which his former “fixer” surrendered to the FBI in New York City and pleaded guilty to eight violations of banking, tax, and campaign finance laws–implicating the POTUS in the process.

The feeling is mutual: For years, one of Trump’s most trusted confidantes, as well as his personal attorney, Cohen made it abundantly clear in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York that he has flipped and is willing to talk to Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team about the Russia case—less than a year after he said he “would take a bullet for” the president.

His only loyalty now, he has said, remains with his wife, his children, and the American people.

Specifically, in court, he said that, during the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump [referred to as a candidate for federal office] directed him to make payments to two women who claimed they had affairs with the president in exchange for their silence.

According to his lawyer Lanny Davis—who also represented President Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal—Cohen has information that would be of “significant interest” to Mueller’s team. Davis told MSNBC that the information pertains both to “knowledge of a conspiracy to corrupt American democracy by the Russians and the failure to report that knowledge to the FBI.”

Although Cohen’s recommended sentence for his crimes currently stands at five years, the implication is that—if he is of sufficient use to the Mueller team—that sentence may be reduced.

Also on August 21, Trump’s former Campaign Manager Paul Manafort was found guilty by a jury in Alexandria, Virginia, on eight out of 18 tax and bank fraud charges leveled against him by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in a case meant to bring pressure against the defendant to turn on his former boss.

Manafort is due back in court in Washington, D.C., next month for a second trial centered on allegations of lying to the FBI, money laundering and foreign lobbying, according to the Washington Post. Pundits said he “had plenty to think about” on Wednesday night.

Trump has continued to call Manafort’s prosecution “sad” and to insist that his former campaign aide has been swept up in a “witch hunt” instigated by the Democratic Party.

“Paul Manafort’s a good man,” Trump told reporters in West Virginia. The verdict, he said, “doesn’t involve me, but I still feel, you know, it’s a very sad thing that happened.”

On August 22, according to Gallup, Trump’s favorability rating remained stable, at 42%.

Research contact: datainquiry@gallup.com

Giuliani: ‘Collusion is not a crime’

July 31, 2018

Rudy Giuliani, attorney and spokesperson for President Donald Trump, said in a pair of July 30 interviews that he was at a loss for how colluding with the Russians would be categorized as a crime, Business Insider reported.

The comment—all but an admission that the POTUS had, indeed, colluded with a hostile foreign power—came shortly after Trump’s former personal lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen claimed to CNN on July 26 that he was with his then-boss and several other Trump Organization executives in 2016 when Donald Trump, Jr., told his father he could “get dirt” on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton from the Russians.

Instead of denying that there was any collusion, as Trump has been doing since he took office, Giuliani shifted the conversation by noting that the president did not “pay them for hacking,” which he said was the real offense.

Speaking with the hosts of the Fox and Friends morning show, Giuliani said he has “been sitting here looking in the federal code trying to find collusion as a crime.

“Collusion is not a crime,” he said, adding that the president is “absolutely innocent.”

Then in a discussion with CNN’s New Day, Giuliani said if you “start analyzing the crime, the hacking is the crime.”

“The president didn’t hack,” Giuliani said. “He didn’t pay them for hacking. If you got the hacked information from the Russians here at CNN and you played it, would you be in jeopardy of going to jail? Of course not.”

Giuliani’s comments came a day after Trump took to Twitter to again attack Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is tasked with investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Trump tweeted that there was “No Collusion!” and added that Mueller’s “rigged witch hunt” was “an illegal Scam!”

During his Monday interviews, Giuliani questioned Cohen’s credibility and said the president “did not participate” in the meeting with the Russians, Business Insider said..

Giuliani told CNN he was “happy to tell” Mueller that Trump “wasn’t at the meeting.” Giuliani added that other individuals who could corroborate Cohen’s account would not do so—charging that Cohen is making these claims now because he feels the criminal investigation closing in on him.

Based on the findings of a July 24 Quinnipiac University poll, American voters believe 51% versus 35% “that the Russian government has compromising information about President Trump.” A total of 68% of American voters are “very concerned” or “somewhat concerned” about President Trump’s relationship with Russia, while 32% are “not so concerned” or “not concerned at all.”

Research contact: brown@quinnipiac.edu

The knives are out: Cohen says former boss knew about Trump Tower meet, POTUS issues denial

July 30, 2018

The knives are out. The confrontation between President Donald Trump and his former personal lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen has escalated, with Cohen claiming to CNN on July 26 that he was with his then-boss and several other Trump Organization executives in 2016 when Donald Trump, Jr., told his father he could “get dirt” on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton from the Russians.

On Twitter early on July 27, President Trump strongly denied the story, writing: “… I did NOT know of the meeting with my son, Don jr. Sounds to me like someone is trying to make up stories in order to get himself out of an unrelated jam (Taxi cabs maybe?)”

Sources told CNN that not only does Cohen claim that President Trump had advance knowledge of the meeting in Trump Tower involving Donald Trump Jr., as well as Jared Kushner and then-campaign manager Paul Manafort, but he is willing to tell Special Counsel Robert Mueller all about it in support of collusion claims for the Russia investigation. The sources said Cohen does not have evidence, such as audio recordings, to corroborate his claim, but he is willing to attest to his account.

It already has been established—in an admission by Trump Jr.—that Trump’s campaign staff expected to receive dirt, which they labeled as “opposition research,” on Clinton at the June 2016 meeting. However, unlike the Trumps, US intelligence agencies say Russia interfered to support Trump’s candidacy.

Cohen is under criminal investigation in the Southern District of New York because of his business dealings and efforts during the 2016 campaign to suppress negative stories about Trump. An FBI raid on Cohen’s office in April sought information about taxi owners who had financial dealings with Cohen, CNN has reported.

Cohen has hired Lanny Davis, a former special counsel to President Bill Clinton during his impeachment proceedings, to represent him.

“(Cohen) even retained Bill and Crooked Hillary’s (Clinton) lawyer,” Trump also wrote, referring to Davis. “Gee, I wonder if they helped him make the choice!”

Trump did not respond to shouted questions about Cohen from reporters after speaking about the economy at the White House Friday morning.

In an interview on CNN’s “Cuomo Prime Time” Thursday night, Trump’s lawyer in the Russia investigation, Rudy Giuliani, called Cohen a “pathological liar.”

“I don’t see how he’s got any credibility,” the former New York City mayor said.

In a poll released last week by The Hill, Americans said that they believe that Russia continues to want to interfere in U.S. elections and will do so in the lead-up to the midterms. Jointly conducted by NPR, PBS NewsHour and Marist, the poll found that 57% of Americans said they believe Russia is likely to attempt to interfere in November; versus 38%, who said the Kremlin is not likely to do so.

Research contact: @maristpoll

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

Tom Arnold says he’s teaming up with Michael Cohen to ‘take Trump down’

June 25, 2018

Comedian Tom Arnold said on June 22 that he and President Trump’s former longtime personal lawyer are teaming up to “take down” the president, according to a report by The Hill.

After a meeting with Cohen—who has said in the press that he will testify, if subpoenaed by the Russia probe—Arnold tweeted a selfie of both men together with the caption “I Love New York,” which Cohen retweeted without comment.

Arnold then told NBC News that he met with Cohen as part of a show he is working on for the HBO series Vice, in which he searches for incriminating videos of the president.

“This dude has all the tapes — this dude has everything,” Arnold told NBC News, as reported by The Hill. “I say to Michael, ‘Guess what? We’re taking Trump down together,’ and he’s so tired he’s like, ‘OK.’ “

The idea for the Vice program followed the leak of the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape during the 2016 presidential race, in which Trump can be heard bragging about grabbing women “by the p—-.” The show will feature Arnold’s hunt for other unflattering video and audio recordings of the president.

“We’ve been on the other side of the table and now we’re on the same side,” Arnold told NBC News. “It’s on! I hope [Trump] sees the picture of me and Michael Cohen and it haunts his dreams.”

Arnold declined to reveal to NBC News if Cohen was planning to give him any material for “The Hunt for the Trump Tapes.”

Trump distanced himself from Cohen earlier this month, saying that the man who has been known as the POTUS’ personal lawyer—and had the business cards to prove it—is no longer his lawyer and that he had not spoken to him in “a long time”—a message that the Cohen could not have been happy to hear. Cohen also has complained that the president is not paying his legal fees.

However, a day after Arnold said the two would take down Trump together, Cohen said he had not agreed to that.

Most Americans continue to believe that the Russian effort to influence the 2016 presidential election is a serious matter that should be investigated, but the constant criticism by President Donald Trump of Special Counsel Robert Mueller is taking its toll, according to a CNN poll conducted by SSRS and released on June 22.The number of Americans who approve of how Mueller is handling the investigation has dropped from 48% in March to 44% in May to just 41% now, the lowest it has been in CNN’s polling.

Research contact: 1-494-840-4300 (www.ssrs.com)