Trump lashes out at former lawyer
Facing a growing threat to his presidency, President Donald Trump lashed out at his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, a day after the onetime 'fixer' implicated Trump in a campaign cover-up to buy the silence of women who said they had sexual relationships with him.
Trump on Wednesday accused Cohen of making up "stories in order to get a 'deal'" from federal prosecutors. Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations that the lawyer said he carried out in coordination with Trump.
"If anyone is looking for a good lawyer, I would strongly suggest that you don't retain the services of Michael Cohen!" Trump tweeted Wednesday.
In a split screen for the history books, Cohen's admission to the crimes in federal court in New York on Tuesday came at nearly the same moment that Trump's onetime campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was convicted by a jury in Virginia of financial misdeeds. Manafort faces separate charges in September in the District of Columbia that include acting as a foreign agent.
The back-to-back blows resulted from the work of special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russia's attempts to sway voters in the 2016 election, including hacking Democrats' emails, whether the Trump campaign may have cooperated, and if the president himself obstructed justice in investigating both.
Trump has denounced the probe again Wednesday on Twitter as a "witch-hunt."
Cohen's lawyer, Lanny Davis, said Wednesday that Cohen has information "that would be of interest" to the special counsel. Davis said Cohen is not looking for a presidential pardon.
"My observation is that the topics relating to hacking and the crime of hacking ... that there are subjects that Michael Cohen could address that would be of interest to the special counsel," Davis said in a series of television interviews.
Trump soon weighed in on Twitter, taking his shot at Cohen and praising Manafort, saying he has "such respect for a brave man!"
Manafort, Trump wrote, had "tremen-dous pressure on him and, unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to 'break.'"
But there was no doubt that Cohen's acknowledgement of a coordinated payoff scheme puts Trump's presidency on the defensive.
"It's going to be hard for the president to try to discredit all this. It's circling him," said David Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor who is not involved in the case.
Cohen and Manafort played prominent roles in Trump's political rise in 2016.
In a deal with federal prosecutors, Cohen pleaded guilty to eight counts, including tax evasion. He could get about four to five years in prison at sentencing on December 12.