Does Rudy Giuliani believe longtime Trump fixer Michael Cohen will flip on his former boss? It depends on the day.
Giuliani, the TV-friendly face of the President’s legal team, has been all over the map on this question in the weeks since FBI agents raided Cohen’s apartment, office and hotel room. The one thing Giuliani has repeated over and over is that Cohen has nothing incriminating on Trump—but Giuliani’s public comments have undercut that claim, too.
Underlying all of this public blustering and flip-flopping is an important fact: plea deals aren’t just handed out like candy. Prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York are likely still digging through the reams of documents they seized from Cohen as part of their probe into Cohen’s business dealings and the hush money payments he made to women on Trump’s behalf.
If Cohen doesn’t have additional useful, incriminatory information to divulge, they won’t offer him a deal. Cohen, for his part, is suggesting that he has a pretty song to sing, and that he intends to do so.
Back on May 6, ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos asked Giuliani if he was “concerned” that Cohen would cooperate with prosecutors.
“No,” Giuliani replied. “I expect that he is going to cooperate with them. I don’t think they’ll be happy with it because he doesn’t have any incriminating evidence about the President or himself.”
But these comments came days after Giuliani divulged that Trump reimbursed Cohen for the $130,000 October 2016 payment to former adult film star Stormy Daniels to keep her from publicly discussing her alleged affair with Trump. Trump had previously said he knew nothing about the payment, which is reportedly one of the topics under scrutiny in the New York probe of Cohen.
In the same interview with ABC, Giuliani said Cohen may even have doled out payments to other women on Trump’s behalf.
“The agreement with Michael Cohen, as far as I know, is a longstanding agreement that Michael Cohen takes care of situations like this then gets paid for them sometimes,” Giuliani said.
As the weeks passed, stories piled up about Cohen feeling sidelined and abandoned by Trump, fueling rumors that Cohen planned to flip. Giuliani dropped in to the Fox News studios on June 13 to try to quash the gossip.
“I checked into this last night. It’s not so,” he said of Cohen. “He’s not cooperating, nor do we care because the President did nothing wrong.”
“We’re very comfortable if he cooperates that there’s nothing he can cooperate about with regard to President Trump. I am absolutely certain about that from everything I know about that investigation,” Giuliani added.
Not long after, Cohen broke his silence. In a July 1 interview with Stephanopoulos, he said his first loyalty was to his family and country. He hinted, for the first time, that he may have damaging information on the President, declining to answer questions on whether Trump had advance knowledge of the Daniels payment or the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Trump campaign staffers and Russians offering dirt on Hillary Clinton.
Cohen said he’d wait to consult with his new lawyers—one of whom is Clinton ally and Trump critic Lanny Davis—before deciding on any cooperation deal, but acknowledged he planned to break his joint-defense agreement with Trump.
Giuliani brushed off these significant developments in a round of July 8 interviews, telling CNN Cohen “should cooperate.”
“I don’t know what he has to flip over,” Giuliani said. “What I do know is there is no evidence of wrongdoing with President Trump. So we’re very comfortable. If he believes it’s in his best interest to cooperate, God bless him. He should cooperate. I think the man has been horribly treated by the people he’s going to cooperate with, but sometimes you have no other choice.”
As long as Cohen tells the truth, Giuliani continued, “we’re home free.”
In further evidence of the Trump-Cohen split, Davis mocked Giuliani’s “definition of ‘truth’” on Twitter.
Did @rudygiuliani really say on Sunday shows that @michaelcohen212 should cooperate with prosecutors and tell the truth? Seriously? Is that Trump and Giuliani definition of “truth”? Trump/Giuliani next to the word “truth” = oxymoron. Stay tuned. #thetruthmatters
— Lanny Davis (@LannyDavis) July 9, 2018
“Trump/Giuliani next to the word ‘truth’ = oxymoron,” Davis wrote. “Stay tuned. #thetruthmatters.”