President Trump’s fixer, Michael Cohen, has officially gone rogue. His lawyer, Lanny Davis, told Axios that Cohen has “turned” and that he is “no longer the previous Michael Cohen that you knew — taking a bullet for Donald Trump, saying anything to defend him, being a good soldier. ... That is over.” Now, The Washington Post has even more detail about Michael Cohen’s heel turn against Trump. Per WaPo:
In the nearly four months since FBI agents raided his office, home and hotel room, Cohen has felt wounded and abandoned by Trump, waiting for calls or even a signal of support that never came. Cohen got frustrated when Trump started talking about him in the past tense, panicked last month when he thought the president no longer cared about his plight, and became furious when Trump lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani contradicted some of his accounts, according to his associates.
In Cohen’s gravest hour, as one associate described it, Trump was “leaving him out in the wilderness.”
The result is open warfare between attorney and former client. Cohen has chosen to morph from Trump’s pugnacious defender to a truth-teller without regard for any possible political or legal ramifications for the president, according to Lanny Davis, one of Cohen’s attorneys.
Lanny Davis said that Cohen had to “hit the reset button,” as he became the latest Trump employee to realize that loyalty is a one-way-street with our president. The problem for Trump is that Cohen isn’t some contractor that he can sue into silence. Cohen handled Trump’s dirty laundry, and he made tapes while doing it. Per WaPo:
The government has seized more than 100 recordings that Cohen made of his conversations with people discussing matters that could relate to Trump and his businesses and with Trump himself talking, according to two people familiar with the recordings. Cohen appeared to make some recordings with an iPhone — without telling anyone he was taping them.
Cohen’s lawyer already gave one tape to CNN, where it sounds like Trump is ordering Cohen to “pay with cash” when the topic of a hush payment to former mistress Karen McDougal arose. Given that Trump only processes reality through a media lens, we can assume that this leak was a deliberate message sent to Trump. It’s one thing to go on TV and talk about how you could hurt Trump, but it’s another thing to send evidence to a TV station that does indeed hurt Trump. That sets the tone for what is to come, and if Lanny Davis’ bluster is any indication, there is plenty more on its way.
The 100 tapes are not all of Trump, according to two sources that WaPo spoke to. “A significant portion” are conversations that Cohen had with reporters about Trump, but the president does appear “in snippets” on “several of the recordings.” One operative close to the White House told the Post that “the general feeling inside and outside the building is that if there was anything, [Cohen] would be the guy who would know it and now give it up.”
We have a criminal president. Trump Taj Mahal was slapped with what was at the time, the largest fine a casino has ever received for anti-money laundering violations. His business ventures are littered with relationships with shady characters, and he even said as much when he told Chris Matthews that “I’ve known some tough cookies over the years. I’ve known the people that make the politicians you and I deal with every day look like little babies.” Now, the man overseeing a significant portion of Trump’s shadiness is speaking out. This is not a war that Trump has the ability to win. His only hope is to muddy the waters enough where the damaging releases by Cohen are obscured by whataboutism.
By all accounts, Michael Cohen feels like a jilted lover. He pitched himself as a Ray Donovan-esque fixer who operated in the shadows on behalf of a man he expressed unabashed loyalty towards. However, as soon as Cohen found himself in need of both legal and financial help, he quickly learned that loyalty does not go both ways in Trumplandia. Everything exists to serve Trump’s ego, and Cohen cannot help Trump, he can only hurt him. Unfortunately for POTUShitforbrains, he would rather keep his reputation as the cheapest rich man in existence than part with some cash to rid himself of a serious problem. Now that problem is fighting back, and it has plenty of audio ammo to keep this story in the news for a long time. This is just getting started, folks.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.