President Donald Trump’s longtime lawyer Michael Cohen has indicated he is willing to cooperate with investigators even at the President’s expense.
“My wife, my daughter and my son have my first loyalty and always will,” Cohen said in an off-camera interview with ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos who pointed out to him he was backing down on his word to “take a bullet” for the President.
Cohen has recently found himself under intensifying scrutiny from federal prosecutors who are examining his business practices, as well as from special counsel Robert Mueller, who is pushing forward with his probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, which Cohen was also involved into.
Federal investigators are scrutinizing Cohen for possible bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations, while Mueller has been looking into Cohen’s role into events involving Russian interests, The Washington Post reports.
According to Stephanopoulos, Cohen reportedly told him he would “not be a punching bag” for Trump’s legal team that may try to discredit him as part of their legal strategy.
During the interview, Cohen also avoided giving direct answers to some questions like the one as to whether he was instructed by Trump to pay adult-film star Stormy Daniels $130,000 for her silence. So far, Cohen insisted he had acted on his own.
“I want to answer. One day I will answer,” Cohen told Stephanopoulos on Saturday. “But for now, I can’t comment further on advice of my counsel.”
Cohen also expressed varying views from those of President Trump on several issues, including the special counsel’s investigation and the FBI’s raid on his home, hotel room and office. He said the term “witch hunt” that the President uses to refer to Mueller’s Russia investigation was something he took issue with. Cohen also refused to attack the FBI agents’ raid like Trump had previously done.
“I don’t agree with those who demonize or vilify the FBI,” Cohen said. “I respect the FBI as an institution, as well as their agents.”
Cohen did, however, criticize Trump campaign aides who took part in a June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower with several Russians after being promised damaging information about Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
“I believe it was a mistake by those from the Trump campaign who did participate,” Cohen said. “It was simply an example of poor judgment.”