Trump’s former personal lawyer says he’ll put family first

Michael Cohen

Michael Cohen

In an interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos on Saturday, Donald Trump's longtime personal attorney, Michael Cohen, sent the clearest signal yet he's prepared to flip on the president, telling the host he's putting his family and country first.

"My wife, my daughter and my son have my first loyalty and always will", Cohen told the network. When Stephanopoulos asked what he'd do if he had to choose between the President and his family, he emphatically stated that his family was his "first priority".

Michael Cohen, President Trump's self-described "fixer", indicated that he might cooperate with prosecutors, potentially spelling more trouble for a White House that's already been rocked by a criminal investigation into election meddling by Russian Federation.

Cohen, who became Trump's personal lawyer in 2007, is infamous for paying $130,000 to porn star Stormy Daniels shortly before the 2016 election to keep quiet about her alleged 2006 affair with Trump. Cohen had been represented by attorneys with the law firm McDermott Will and Emery after the Federal Bureau of Investigation seized records from his home, office, and hotel, but he has since retained a new lawyer, Guy Petrillo.

President Trump's longtime personal attorney is allegedly changing lawyers after a deadline this week on which Federal Bureau of Investigation documents seized fall under attorney-client privilege; Rick Leventhal reports.

Asked what he will do if Trump and allies try to discredit him, Cohen replied, "I will not be a punching bag as part of anyone's defense strategy".

And in a direct rebuttal to President Trump, who sent out a tweet last week repeating Vladimir Putin's claim that Russian Federation did not interfere in our election, Cohen added this: "Simply accepting the denial of Mr. Putin is unsustainable".

And while he admits he's made mistakes in the past - what those mistakes are was not disclosed - Cohen says he is working to regain his reputation.

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"But for now, I can't comment further on advice of my counsel", he added.

Last month, President Trump told reporters at the White House that Cohen was not his lawyer anymore.

"I don't agree with those who demonise or vilify the FBI", Mr Cohen said. In fact, he's stopped answering the question altogether, although he tells Stephanopoulos that "I want to answer".

Now, when asked if Trump instructed Cohen to do this, the response is, "I want to answer".

"When they [the FBI] searched my hotel room and my home, it was obviously upsetting to me and my family".

He did criticize the members of the Trump campaign - Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort - who took part in the infamous Trump Tower meeting in June 2016 with several Russians after being promised dirt on rival Hillary Clinton.

Mr Trump has repeatedly referred to the Mueller investigation as a "witch hunt". "I'm the guy who would take a bullet for the president".

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