As Donald Trump’s “fixer” Michael Cohen is facing what even a federal judge last week called a “likely” criminal indictment, some reports say that he may have already “flipped,” that is, started cooperating with federal prosecutors in making a potential case against Trump himself.
Despite once saying that he would “take a bullet” to protect Trump, reports have surfaced over the past week that Cohen has become disappointed and unhappy with the way Trump has treated him since winning the 2016 presidential election, even once setting up a breakfast date with Trump’s rival billionaire Mark Cuban in order to make Trump jealous.
According to a Wall Street Journal report last week, widely repeated by other media outlets, Trump has a long history of snubbing and humiliating Cohen, which culminated in Trump’s refusal to give Cohen a job in his administration, leading Cohen to lament in a phone call to Trump from New York, “Boss, I miss you so much.”
In a phone-in interview with the Fox News show Fox and Friends last week, Trump appeared to push Cohen even farther away, stating that Cohen — who is generally described as Trump’s personal lawyer — performed only a “tiny, tiny little fraction” of Trump’s legal work.
Cohen, according to sources close to him who spoke to Vanity Fair magazine, said that Cohen was “surprised” by Trump’s comments to the Fox program and was “baffled about why Trump even made the remarks in the first place. He did not see the benefit and was not sure what purpose it served, which frustrated him, especially as he’d been spending 10 hours a day fighting these allegations.”
But the strongest indication that Trump fears that Cohen has finally turned on him came this week via the National Enquirer tabloid newspaper, a publication owned by Trump’s close friend David Pecker and which has frequently functioned as a mouthpiece for Trump since he began his run for president in 2015, providing almost unwaveringly favorable coverage for Trump — and extremely negative coverage of Trump’s perceived enemies.
The Enquirer this week startled political observers by adding Cohen to that list of enemies, at least judging by the paper’s cover story which accused Cohen of “secrets and lies,” and purporting to “expose” Cohen’s “payoff and threats.”
“Cohen is under the spotlight, as scandals swirl around his boss, and some are questioning Cohen’s role, alleging blackmail, threats, hush-money payoffs — and even collusion with Russia,” the National Enquirer story reads.
In a separate story in the same issue, the Enquirer also claims that Trump has taken and passed a polygraph test “proving no Russia collusion!”
The tabloid’s sudden turn against the “fixer” who has portrayed himself as the most staunchly loyal of Trump’s employees, was interpreted by many experts as a signal that Trump and his inner circle fear — or possibly, know — that Cohen has already turned on his boss.
Michael Avenatti, the lawyer representing adult video star Stormy Daniels in her two lawsuits against Trump, said that the Enquirer story indicated that Trump was in “panic mode” over the possibility that Cohen has “flipped.”
“The tabloid weekly is not merely friendly to Trump but operated on his personal behalf,” wrote New York Magazine political columnist Jonathan Chait on Monday. “Its latest cover accuses Cohen of ‘Secrets & Lies,’ a charge it would be hard to imagine a Trumpist organ orchestrating against a close Trump ally unless it had strong reason to suspect he was turning against his patron.”
Nonetheless, in what could be interpreted as an attempt to buy Cohen’s silence, ABC News revealed on Monday that the Trump 2020 presidential campaign has paid almost $230,000 in legal expenses for Cohen as he fights the criminal case, which became public when the FBI raided Cohen’s office, home and hotel room on April 9, seizing a large cache of documents and electronic communications.
Cohen is being investigated for alleged bank fraud and other financial crimes, according to a Washington Post report.