In an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos Monday, former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen repeatedly distanced himself from President Donald Trump, broke with the President explicitly and hinted that he would one day soon air Trump’s damaging dirty laundry.
Again and again, Cohen refused declare fealty to Trump. “My wife, my daughter and my son have my first loyalty and always will—I put family and country first,” he said, repeating the refrain in different ways twice more. This is a far cry from his emotional promises to “take a bullet” for the President less than a year ago.
When confronted with the reality that Trump and his legal team would put a target on Cohen’s back if they perceive him to be a threat, Cohen “stiffened his spine.” “I will not be a punching bag as part of anyone’s defense strategy, I am not a villain in any story and won’t allow others to try to depict me in that way,” he told Stephanopoulos.
He even went so far as to candidly break with the President’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.”
“Simply accepting Putin’s denial is unsustainable,” he continued. “I choose to believe our intelligence agencies.”
Tantalizingly, Cohen then hinted heavily that he has information to share on two hot-button and possibly damning episodes for the President: the infamous Trump tower meeting when “dirt” on Hillary Clinton was promised, and the $130,000 hush money payout made to Stormy Daniels during the election.
On both questions, whether Trump knew of the meeting and if he had requested or promised to reimburse the payment, Cohen cryptically refused to answer—for now.
“I want to answer,” he said. “One day I will answer. But for now I can’t comment further on advice of my counsel.”