Trump lawyer Cohen says family, U.S. have his 'first loyalty'

Trump's ex-lawyer Cohen to break his silence in interview on 'Good Morning America' on Monday

Trump lawyer Cohen says family, U.S. have his 'first loyalty'

"He wouldn't have to do this complicated dance in the media".

The interview consisted entirely of Cohen criticizing and distancing himself from Trump.

Cohen was Trump's self-described fixer and a key player in the Trump Organization for more than a decade, regularly berating reporters and threatening lawsuits against anyone who posed a challenge to his boss. Although Trump has denied the relationship, the payment was authorized on the eve of the 2016 presidential election.

Though Cohen claims he can not talk about the specifics of the case, there are some areas where Cohen provides detail.

Noting that he is not yet willing to spill all the beans about the hush payment he made to Daniels, Cohen indicated that he is very much looking forward to setting the record straight, but is forced to hold back now, at the advice of his legal counsellor, Guy Petrillo.

The latter is understood to relate to Mr Cohen paying off porn star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 election, which could count as an illegal contribution to President Trump's campaign.

"Some people are speculating that this is Michael Cohen making a final threat/plea to POTUS for a pardon", Mitchell Epner, an attorney at Rottenberg Lipman Rich who was previously an assistant United States attorney for the District of New Jersey, told Business Insider.

That's certainly possible. In the interview, Stephanopoulos asked Cohen whether he could say that Trump told him to pay off Stormy Daniels, and whether Trump knew about the Trump Tower meeting with the Russians in June 2016. "I am not a villain in any story and won't allow others to try and depict me in that way". Cohen of course is still under active criminal investigation by the FBI and federal prosecutors in NY.

After a decade in private practice, Petrillo returned to the USA attorney's office in January 2008 and, until October 2009, was chief of the criminal division, where he had broad oversight of all investigations.

A court-appointed special master is reviewing their claims.

JOHNSON: You know, Cohen may or may not have some valuable information about Donald Trump. The Enquirer also gave Cohen sign-off power on stories about Trump before they ran, according to The Washington Post.

Stephanopoulos said he asked Cohen repeatedly if he was considering cooperating with prosecutors in their investigation.

Another source confirmed that Cohen and Petrillo had met to discuss taking Cohen on as a client.

Petrillo used to lead the criminal division of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan, which now leads the Cohen investigation. Will he cooperate with prosecutors?

Further, after Trump last week echoed Vladimir Putin's denial about interfering in US elections, Cohen said, "Simply accepting the denial of Mr. Putin is unsustainable". Cohen has previously said he acted on his own, without guidance from Trump, though Giuliani has said Trump reimbursed his lawyer.

He also refused to answer questions directly about the investigation, telling Stephanopoulos he respects the prosecutors and did not want to do or say anything that might interfere.

Judicial Watch announced its lawsuit the same day ABC News aired an exclusive interview with Cohen, which it billed as Cohen's "first in-depth interview since the Federal Bureau of Investigation raided his office and homes in April". "But for now, I can't comment further on advice of my counsel".

Discussing the ABC interview on CNN's "New Day", CNN Chief Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin said Cohen's interview "clearly implies that he will make a deal with the government if there are charges against him and testify, cooperate, rather than sort of hold the line for Donald Trump".

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