BREAKING NEWS Police: At least 11 wounded in mass shooting at Grenada biker club Full Story

From Trump's protector to enemy: Michael Cohen's extraordinary transformation

Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's ...

Posted: Oct 18, 2018 12:34 PM
Updated: Oct 18, 2018 12:34 PM

Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's longtime protector and former attorney, now wants to be the man to take down the President.

In a matter of months, Cohen has gone through an extraordinary transformation: from a self-proclaimed "fixer" eager to do whatever it takes to shield his boss, to an aggrieved Democrat strategizing ways to help bring about the President's political -- and legal -- downfall.

Campaign finance

Donald Trump

Elections and campaigns

Government and public administration

Investigations

Law and legal system

Michael Cohen

Misc people

Political Figures - US

Politics

Cohen has all but flaunted his own metamorphosis.

Last week, Cohen's adviser Lanny Davis disclosed that the 52-year-old had changed his party registration back to Democrat. A source told CNN this week that Cohen is willing to hit the campaign trail and donor circuit to fight Trump, and publicly call out anything he considered to be lies from the President. And since pleading guilty to multiple criminal counts over the summer, Cohen has been in contact with a range of investigators, including from special counsel Robert Mueller's office -- no doubt an effort to try to receive a lighter prison sentence.

In a rare tweet over the weekend, Cohen sent out a public plea: "The #MidtermElections2018might be the most important vote in our lifetime," he wrote, adding: "#GetOutAndVote#VoteNovember6th"

Cohen's message has been unmistakable: He is now prepared to do most anything to fight Trump.

Trump has returned the hostility -- in much blunter terms.

In an interview with the Associated Press on Tuesday, the President derided Cohen as a "low level" PR person who did "very small legal work" for him. Trump also outright accused Cohen of having lied under oath in August when he told a federal judge that it was at Trump's direction that he facilitated hush agreements for women who alleged to have had affairs with the President.

"He wasn't in trouble for what he did for me; he was in trouble for what he did for other people," Trump told the AP. "And what he was is also a public relations person. And now if he wants to try and get a little bit lighter sentence for what he did."

Trump's assertion that Cohen did not get in trouble for work he did for the President is downright false.

Cohen pleaded guilty in a Manhattan federal court to eight criminal counts in August, including tax evasion, making false statements to a bank and campaign finance violations. He admitted that "in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office" -- Trump -- he kept information that could have harmed the President from becoming public during the 2016 election.

While the tax evasion and false statement charges were rooted in Cohen's taxi medallion business, the campaign finance charges were directly related to his work for Trump -- specifically, payments Cohen made or helped orchestrate that were designed to silence adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal. Trump has denied having affairs with both women.

Cohen is scheduled to be sentenced in December and his plea deal didn't include a cooperation agreement. This means he can try to aid investigators in an effort to earn a reduced sentence.

Friends and associates of Cohen's have told CNN that over the past few months, Cohen initially looked for signs of support from his former boss. But he grew increasingly isolated -- and even distraught -- when it became clear that neither Trump nor the White House were coming to his defense.

And now, they say, protecting his family -- including minimizing legal bills -- is Cohen's singular focus.

"He's very resigned to doing the time. He's resigned to the fact that he's going to go to jail for some time," a source familiar with Cohen's thinking previously told CNN.

The question now is whether Cohen can do anything to minimize jail time.

According to Davis, Cohen has provided the special counsel's office with "critical information" to aid their investigation into Russian collusion in the 2016 election.

In addition, Cohen and his attorney met Wednesday with federal prosecutors from the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York and with officials from the New York Attorney General's office, according to people familiar with the matter. Both of those offices are continuing to investigate various aspects of Trump's family business and charitable organization, CNN has reported.

Cohen had been in contact with the New York state attorney general's office since shortly after his guilty plea -- potentially significant because the office has a civil lawsuit against the Trump Foundation and has been coordinating its investigation with the US attorney's office.

Trump Organization investigations

Another area where Cohen could prove to have useful information about his former boss: the innerworkings of the Trump Organization.

Cohen and his attorney Guy Petrillo have met with investigators and lawyers at the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, according to a department spokesman. That office, CNN has reported, is conducting an inquiry into possible tax fraud at the Trump Organization based on evidence included in the August charges against Cohen from federal prosecutors. It is also examining whether the company kept accurate books and records, as the failure to do so is a state crime.

In a dramatic set of raids in the spring, investigators collected millions of documents, recordings and data from Cohen's home, hotel room and office. They included audio files that Cohen secretly made of his private conversations with Trump. The surreptitious recordings were particularly striking given the fact that Cohen made a name for himself over the years as Trump's most strident defender and loyalist.

For Trump, who famously values loyalty above all else and is wary of trusting even those in his inner-most circle, Cohen's evolution epitomizes the ultimate betrayal. And for Cohen, who is looking at the daunting possibility of jail time, turning his back on the President is likely the only feasible way to protect his family and salvage his reputation.

Sam Nunberg, a former Trump adviser who has also known Cohen for years, said the two men's public feud confirmed that under the surface, theirs was always a "relationship of convenience."

"Michael clearly doesn't feel that his loyalty was returned by the president and any impartial spectator would agree," Nunberg said. "I was shocked that he taped conversations with the President. In hindsight, I don't think he was as loyal as he pretended to be."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 149940

Reported Deaths: 3779
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto10097104
Hinds9984199
Harrison7116110
Jackson6360119
Rankin5588103
Lee509195
Madison4799106
Forrest383186
Jones357688
Lauderdale3496147
Lafayette326051
Washington3179107
Lamar291550
Oktibbeha245462
Bolivar241384
Lowndes237364
Panola222350
Neshoba2206118
Marshall217250
Leflore205590
Pontotoc199928
Monroe198177
Sunflower191655
Lincoln190865
Warren176857
Tate169851
Union167325
Copiah164140
Pike162658
Yazoo156039
Scott154829
Itawamba152935
Pearl River152167
Alcorn151328
Coahoma150543
Simpson148353
Prentiss146230
Adams141950
Grenada140945
Leake134944
Holmes130861
George125524
Tippah125230
Covington123439
Winston122224
Hancock121139
Wayne117923
Marion116646
Attala113034
Tishomingo109442
Chickasaw107632
Newton105629
Tallahatchie97027
Clay91327
Clarke90553
Jasper82822
Stone77014
Walthall76928
Calhoun75513
Montgomery74525
Carroll72415
Lawrence71814
Smith71316
Yalobusha71327
Noxubee71017
Perry67026
Tunica61019
Greene60322
Claiborne58616
Jefferson Davis57017
Amite54014
Humphreys53619
Benton49318
Quitman4927
Webster44314
Kemper43618
Wilkinson39822
Jefferson35211
Franklin3395
Choctaw3357
Sharkey30917
Issaquena1164
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 244993

Reported Deaths: 3572
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson32314500
Mobile19859361
Madison13223148
Tuscaloosa13049154
Montgomery12342236
Shelby1031577
Baldwin873398
Lee775766
Morgan662650
Calhoun6301119
Etowah627666
Marshall627255
Houston525638
DeKalb485536
Cullman439442
Limestone425145
St. Clair419555
Lauderdale407854
Elmore406864
Walker3657111
Talladega351454
Jackson320423
Colbert311942
Blount292240
Autauga273542
Franklin252633
Coffee245415
Dale232654
Dallas226232
Chilton223438
Russell22193
Covington218934
Escambia198331
Chambers176850
Tallapoosa176391
Pike158614
Clarke158419
Marion140236
Winston133023
Lawrence127936
Pickens123518
Geneva12218
Marengo121524
Bibb117917
Barbour117310
Butler116541
Randolph102921
Cherokee102224
Hale97031
Clay91924
Fayette91616
Washington91219
Henry8546
Lowndes79929
Monroe78911
Cleburne77214
Macon73722
Crenshaw71130
Bullock69619
Perry6886
Conecuh68414
Lamar6798
Wilcox63518
Sumter58122
Greene42618
Choctaw42213
Coosa3444
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Overcast
51° wxIcon
Hi: 51° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 51°
Columbus
Overcast
52° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 52°
Oxford
Overcast
48° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 44°
Starkville
Overcast
50° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 50°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather