Published: Tue, July 03, 2018
World | By Camille Rivera

Family, not the President claim first loyalty: Trump lawyer Michael Cohen

Family, not the President claim first loyalty: Trump lawyer Michael Cohen

Donald Trump's former personal lawyer, facing potential arrest in NY, has declared his first loyalty is to his family and the country, signaling a willingness to cooperate with prosecutors against the president.

"My wife, my daughter, and my son have my first loyalty and always will", Cohen said during an interview last weekend with ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos.

Cohen also countered Trump's position on Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe, saying "I don't like the term 'witch-hunt.' As an American, I repudiate any foreign government's attempt to interfere in our democratic process and I would call on all Americans to do the same".

Stephanopoulos, who described the 45-minute off-camera interview on "Good Morning America", said he pointed out to Cohen that he was not repeating past vows to "take a bullet" or "do anything" to protect the president.

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Cohen is now under criminal investigation for alleged violations of election law as well as possible financial crimes in connection to his personal business dealings. And here's the kicker: Even if Trump chose to pardon Cohen (a move that would set off impeachment talk), Cohen nearly certainly has state criminal charges to worry about.

The judge said investigators are probably eyeing bank fraud charges against Cohen when it comes to the Daniels payment, which was done through a home-equity loan.

When I 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 Mr. Trump over the last decade - he sat up straight.

Questions have abounded over whether or not Mr Cohen - who denies any wrongdoing - would co-operate with prosecutors. Through White House officials, the U.S. president has denied the relationship. Cohen is enlisting a new lawyer, former NY prosecutor Guy Petrillo, who once held a leadership post in the same office investigating Cohen.

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As the ABC report noted, Cohen's team at McDermott was in a joint defense agreement with Trump's legal team, led by Joanna Hendon of Spears Imes, allowing them to share information and documents with each other.

"I believe it was a mistake by those from the Trump campaign who did participate", Mr Cohen said.

Documents and files were seized from Cohen as part of an investigation stemming in part from a referral by the USA special counsel office probing possible collusion between Russian Federation and Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. Cohen had said in the past he acted on his own when making the payment, but on Saturday he refused further comment on the advice of his counsel. Trump denounced the raid of Cohen's office as a "disgraceful situation" and a "total witch hunt".

"I can't imagine his lawyers would want him to do so".

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"I would not do or say a thing that might be perceived as interfering with their professional review of the evidence and the facts", Cohen added. I thanked them for their service and as they left. For someone whose office and hotel room were famously raided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation - which prompted a great deal of uproar from Trump and his allies - Cohen has nothing but respect for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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