Donald Trump wants everyone to know that he’s not worried at all — except maybe a little — about what Michael Cohen might do to save himself if he faces federal charges.
That’s the gist of a tweetstorm set off by a New York Times story that portrayed the president’s treatment of his personal lawyer/fixer over the years as abusive. “Donald goes out of his way to treat him like garbage,” said Roger Stone, a longtime adviser to Trump.
Among Cohen’s cleanup jobs for Trump have been arranging campaign-time hush-money payoffs for the porn star and the Playboy playmate who said they had sexual encounters with him. Cohen also has business dealings with Russia-connected figures under scrutiny by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Trump accused the Times and its reporter Maggie Haberman of “going out of their way to destroy Michael Cohen and his relationship with me in the hope that he will ‘flip.’ ” Cohen, he quickly added, is “a fine person with a wonderful family ... who I have always liked & respected.”
So what’s the problem? “Most people will flip if the Government lets them out of trouble, even if ... it means lying or making up stories,” Trump tweeted.
But nah, the ever-loyal Cohen would never buckle, he concluded: “Sorry, I don’t see Michael doing that despite the horrible Witch Hunt and the dishonest media!”
See Tom Brune’s story for Newsday.
Janison: Check Rudy’s baggage
Trump signed on Rudy Giuliani to his legal team to plead the president’s case for wrapping up the Mueller investigation. But don’t be surprised if the former New York mayor also brings attention on himself, welcome or otherwise.
There’s his penchant for remarks crude enough for even Trump to find cringe-worthy. Axios reported last month about Giuliani telling a fundraiser crowd at Mar-a-Lago that when Hillary Clinton attended Trump’s 2005 wedding there, “she actually fit through the door.”
There are the gossip-page splashes over his latest marital bust-up. And there are still-undisclosed results of an internal FBI investigation into whether bureau leaks were behind Giuliani’s hints in October 2016 of not-yet-announced developments in the Clinton email investigation. See Dan Janison’s column for Newsday.
Counting unhatched chickens
He hasn’t gotten to the table yet, but Trump is spinning the pending negotiations with North Korea as a win so far.
“We haven’t given up anything & they have agreed to denuclearization (so great for World), site closure, & no more testing!” he tweeted.
Trump aides are warier, The Washington Post reports. They view the halt of testing and shuttering of one nuclear facility as easily reversible, and more notable for what Kim Jong Un left out: a direct pledge to work toward nuclear disarmament.
Unless Kim agrees to that, The Wall Street Journal (pay site) reported, Trump won’t agree to give Pyongyang relief from sanctions.
After his first tweet, Trump modulated expectations with another: “We are a long way from conclusion on North Korea, maybe things will work out, and maybe they won’t — only time will tell.” See the story for Newsday by Laura Figueroa Hernandez and Scott Eidler.
Toasts with the French
French President Emmanuel Macron arrives Monday in Washington, where he will be Trump’s first guest for a state dinner and will be trying hard to get the U.S. president to see the world his way.
Macron told “Fox News Sunday” that he will urge Trump to stick with the Iranian nuclear accord, arguing there’s no “Plan B.” He also has argued against new tariffs Trump has threatened to impose starting May 1, saying, “You don’t make trade war with your allies.”
Macron has claimed he talked Trump out of a quick withdrawal from Syria. But he couldn’t get Trump to keep the U.S. in the Paris climate accord.
First wives and clubs
Ivana Trump, the president’s first wife, says he’d be better off leaving the White House after one term instead of seeking re-election at age 74. “Maybe he should just go and play golf and enjoy his fortune,” she said in an interview with the New York Post’s Page Six.
“I don’t think he probably knew how much is involved of being the president. It’s so [much] information — you have to know the whole world,” Ivana Trump said.
She also said “I feel bad” for Wife No. 3 Melania Trump since the news that porn star Stormy Daniels was paid to keep quiet about her story of an extramarital fling with Trump.
The president has denied it, but Ivana Trump said: “I know how bad I did feel. It hurts a lot.” She recounted she sought a divorce because of Trump’s affair with Marla Maples, who became his second wife.
What else is happening
- Trump’s legislative affairs director, Marc Short, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday that Mueller has strayed beyond the original scope of his investigation. Short declined to rule out the possibility of Trump firing him.
- White House adviser Kellyanne Conway’s husband, George Conway, has drawn notice for tweets critical of Trump. When the Trump aide was asked about that on CNN Sunday, she accused interviewer Dana Bash of asking a sexist question meant to “harass and embarrass.”
- Trump tweeted that, at Sylvester Stallone’s urging, he may give a posthumous pardon to Jack Johnson, who in 1908 became the first black heavyweight boxing champ and later went to jail because he had a relationship with a white girlfriend. Past calls for a pardon have come from Reps. Peter King (R-Seaford) and Gregory Meeks (D-St. Albans). See Brune’s story for Newsday.
- The U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday will hear a challenge to the lawfulness of Trump’s travel ban targeting people from several Muslim-majority countries.
- The New York Times explores how EPA chief Scott Pruitt benefited financially while a lawmaker and state official in Oklahoma from a tangle of relationships with lobbyists and business associates — two of whom he named to top posts at the federal agency.
- Country-music star Shania Twain faced a social-media backlash simply for saying in an interview she'd have voted for Trump in 2016. She's from Canada.