Allan Smith July 2 , 2018
President Donald Trump's longtime lawyer Michael Cohen broke his silence in an interview with ABC News revealed Monday.
He publicly split with the president on several topics, including Russian election meddling and FBI criticism.
"To be crystal clear, my wife, my daughter, and my son and this country have my first loyalty," Cohen said.
President Donald Trump's longtime lawyer Michael Cohen has broken his silence on the federal criminal investigation into him and publicly split with his old boss in an off-camera interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos.
In the Saturday interview, which Stephanopoulos detailed in an article published Monday morning and also discussed on "Good Morning America," Cohen said he would "put family and country first" when considering what he should do regarding that criminal investigation.
When Stephanopoulos pressed Cohen about his past vow to "take a bullet" for Trump, Cohen doubled down, saying: "To be crystal clear, my wife, my daughter, and my son and this country have my first loyalty."
Cohen, who worked for Trump over the past decade, is the focus of an investigation in the Southern District of New York into whether he violated campaign-finance laws or committed bank fraud, wire fraud, illegal lobbying, or other crimes. The FBI raided his home, his office, and his hotel room in April, seizing roughly 4 million documents from the lawyer. At the time, Trump raged against the raid and tweeted that "attorney-client privilege is dead!"
But in reviewing the documents to decide what to claim as privileged, Cohen's legal team selected only about 12,000 of the 4 million documents, a number experts said was an exceedingly low percentage for a lawyer.
In June, Cohen hired Guy Petrillo as the latest lawyer representing him in the case after it was reported that Cohen was breaking up with his legal team. Petrillo, a partner at Petrillo Klein & Boxer, has extensive experience in the Southern District of New York, which is something Cohen reportedly sought. Experts told Business Insider Petrillo was the kind of lawyer a person would choose if he or she were seeking to cut a deal with prosecutors.
"Once I understand what charges might be filed against me, if any at all, I will defer to my new counsel, Guy Petrillo, for guidance," Cohen told ABC News.
'I am not a villain of this story, and I will not allow others to try to depict me that way'
President Donald Trump. Associated Press/Jacquelyn Martin
In the past few weeks, Cohen seemed to be sending Trump signals regarding whether he planned to cooperate with authorities.
In a resignation letter to the Republican National Committee, he publicly criticized Trump's family separations at the US-Mexico border, and people close to him told The Wall Street Journal and CNN he was frustrated Trump wasn't paying his legal bills — even suggesting Cohen was open to cooperating with the government and providing information on Trump.
Trump has distanced himself from Cohen, suggesting that the investigation has far more to do with Cohen's business dealings than anything Cohen did for the president. Trump has also said he is not worried about Cohen giving the government anything damaging on him because he hasn't done anything wrong.
Stephanopoulos asked Cohen how he might respond if Trump and his legal team began trying to discredit him, and Cohen said he would "not be a punching bag as part of anyone's defense strategy."
"I am not a villain of this story, and I will not allow others to try to depict me that way," Cohen said.
Further splitting from Trump
Cohen also refused to criticize the federal investigators digging into his business dealings and legal work.
"I respect the prosecutors," he said. "I respect the process. I would not do or say anything that might be perceived as interfering with their professional review of the evidence and the facts."
Look out "Orange Monkey" your time is limited , they are going to roll on you ... pack your dudes and move to Russia . HeHe