"When I asked Cohen directly what he would do if prosecutors forced him to choose between protecting the president and protecting his family, he said his family is 'my first priority'".
Cohen has publicly admitted to making a $130,000 payment, from his home equity line of credit, to adult-film star Stormy Daniels in October 2016 in return for her silence about an alleged 2006 affair between Trump and Daniels, and to setting up a limited-liability company in DE to make the payment 10 days before the money transfer. And Cohen could face criminal charges brought by the state of NY or another state that Trump would be powerless to pardon, as the constitution states the president may only pardon federal crimes.
Many legal experts consider this the latest sign that Cohen, who is under federal criminal investigation, is readying to "flip" and cooperate with the government. Besides Cohen's office, agents also searched a hotel room at the Loews Regency where he's been staying while his home is under renovation. Nonetheless, the agents were respectful, courteous and professional.
Cohen, in the off-camera interview, also said he doesn't agree "with those who demonize or vilify the Federal Bureau of Investigation".
He also told ABC he would fully cooperate with U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller and that he had provided documents but not yet been interviewed by Mueller's team.
Trump initially said the raid on Cohen's office was a "disgrace", but later tried to distance himself by telling "Fox & Friends" that the attorney only handled a "tiny, tiny fraction" of his legal work.
"I can't comment, under advice of my counsel, due to the ongoing investigation by the US attorney's office in the Southern District of New York", Cohen said.
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"I will not be a punching bag as part of anyone's defense strategy", Cohen was quoted as saying. Mariotti suggested that Cohen could be "angling for a pardon from Trump", and former Justice Department spokesperson Matt Miller called the TV interview "a not-so-subtle request for a pardon".
"I want to answer". "I am not a villain in any story and won't allow others to try and depict me in that way".
"I can't imagine his lawyers would want him to do so".
When asked by Stephanopoulos whether he believes the Russians interfered in the presidential campaign, Cohen's answer came in the form of support for the agencies that have said such interference did occur.
Cohen recently dramatically shook up his legal team, parting ways with his attorneys at McDermott, Will and Emery and bringing on Guy Petrillo, a former prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney's office for the Southern District of NY. But in the ABC interview, he said he couldn't comment on advice of his lawyer. He denied going to Prague for Trump, and further denied colluding with Russians in any way, according to ABC News.
However, on Monday Cohen also broke with his former client regarding the president's continued attacks on the FBI and the ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.