Michael Cohen told Vanity Fair's Emily Jane Fox in September that he “would take a bullet for the president,” but President Trump's longtime personal attorney sounds considerably less resolute these days.
“I just can't take this anymore,” Cohen has confided in friends, according to Fox's latest reporting.
“This,” of course, is the weight of a federal investigation into possible bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations, and the crush of media coverage that has followed last month's FBI raid of Cohen's office, home and hotel room. Though Cohen continues to say that he is “not going to just roll over” to minimize his own legal jeopardy, according to Fox, he is feeling abandoned by Trump — a sentiment that certainly doesn't promote loyalty.
Elaborating on her reporting during an appearance Thursday on MSNBC, Fox said, “This is a guy who is a family man and a guy who, as friends close to him told me last week, he does not feel like he is being protected, and where he is right now is a dangerous place for him to be.”
On the day of the FBI raid, Trump told reporters that Cohen is a “good man.” Appearing on Sean Hannity's Fox News show two weeks ago, Trump attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani said of Cohen, “I feel very bad he's been victimized like this. The president feels even worse.”
Apart from faint praise and expressions of sympathy, however, the president appears to be offering little support to the man who once described his service to Trump like this: “It means that if somebody does something Mr. Trump doesn't like, I do everything in my power to resolve it to Mr. Trump's benefit. If you do something wrong, I'm going to come at you, grab you by the neck, and I'm not going to let you go until I'm finished.”
Rather than standing in Cohen's corner, Trump now seems to be eyeing him suspiciously. As The Washington Post's Michael Kranish, Tom Hamburger and Rosalind S. Helderman reported last month, “Associates of Trump and Cohen say that Cohen, with his deep knowledge of Trump's personal and financial life, could seek to cut a deal with prosecutors at a moment when Trump's business dealings are facing scrutiny related to the separate inquiry by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III into Russian interference in the 2016 election.”
There were signs of a rift between Trump and Cohen well before the FBI raid. Cohen was a leading candidate to become White House counsel last year and wanted the job but ultimately was passed over, The Post has reported.
And even as he proclaimed his willingness, last fall, to take a bullet for Trump, Cohen acknowledged to Vanity Fair's Fox that he felt marginalized.
“The part that's most disappointing is that I haven't spoken to the president in several weeks,” he said at the time. “I haven't spoken to Melania or any of the kids.”
Cohen rationalized the radio silence as “good legal advice” — protection for the president. Were Cohen to be asked in congressional testimony about his recent conversations with Trump, he could answer honestly that there had been none.
But whatever the reason, Cohen has not been feeling the love from Trump for some time, which could factor into his own consideration of good legal advice.