WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Saturday said he doesn’t expect his personal lawyer Michael Cohen to “flip” and cooperate with federal prosecutors in their investigation of Cohen’s business dealings, including a payment to a porn actress to protect Trump.
Trump tweeted accusations that The New York Times and one of its top reporters, Maggie Haberman, are prodding Cohen to cooperate with the government with a story published Saturday that Trump had treated Cohen badly, but that the leverage in the relationship now has shifted from Trump to Cohen because of the federal investigation.
“The New York Times and a third rate reporter named Maggie Habberman, known as a Crooked H flunkie who I don’t speak to and have nothing to do with, are going out of their way to destroy Michael Cohen and his relationship with me in the hope that he will ‘flip,’ ” Trump tweeted, later correcting the misspelling of the reporter’s name.
“Michael is a businessman for his own account/lawyer who I have always liked & respected. Most people will flip if the Government lets them out of trouble, even if . . . it means lying or making up stories,” Trump continued.
“Sorry, I don’t see Michael doing that despite the horrible Witch Hunt and the dishonest media!” he concluded.
Prosecutors in the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office said in a court filing they’re conducting a criminal investigation of Cohen’s business dealings. It is based on a referral from special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether the Trump campaign or associates colluded with Russia.
The FBI obtained a warrant earlier this month and raided Cohen’s home, office and hotel room and seized business records, emails and other documents including the $130,000 payment to porn actress Stephanie Clifford, known as Stormy Daniels, to stay silent about the relationship she claims to have had with Trump.
Federal prosecutors and Cohen’s attorneys have battled over how much of the material seized can be used in the probe.
Later, Trump criticized a Washington Post story published Saturday that cited sources who said Attorney General Jeff Sessions told the White House counsel a week ago he would leave his post if Trump fires Deputy Attorney Rod Rosenstein, who oversees Mueller.
But what Trump objected to was the report that he had called Sessions the name of a 1950s near-sighted cartoon figure and Rosenstein the name of a meek and often embarrassed school teacher in a 1950s sitcom.
“The Washington Post said I refer to Jeff Sessions as ‘Mr. Magoo’ and Rod Rosenstein as ‘Mr. Peepers.’ This is ‘according to people with whom the president has spoken.’ There are no such people and don’t know these characters...just more Fake & Disgusting News to create ill will!”
Haberman was part of a team at The New York Times that shared the National Reporting Pulitzer Prize with The Washington Post last week for it stories about Russian interference in the 2016 election and its connections to the Trump campaign, transition team and administration.