the national interest

Trump’s Lawyer Forgets to Pretend He’s Innocent, Also Compares Him to Mobster

Michael Cohen.

One of the ways in which the scandals around President Trump have come to resemble a mob movie, other than the nature of the crimes themselves, is that nobody involved is putting up much of a pretense that Trump is innocent. Asked today by Katy Tur if “there’s any chance [Michael Cohen] would end up cooperating, flipping,” Anthony Scaramucci said no, because Cohen ‘is a very loyal person.”

You meant because Trump is innocent, right? Cohen is not going to testify against Trump because Trump did nothing wrong?

Not all of Trump’s supporters feel so confident that Cohen will respect the omertà. In a conversation with Trump last Friday, Jay Goldberg, one of Trump’s lawyers, warned the president, “Michael will never stand up [for you]” if charged by the government, according to The Wall Street Journal. But why would Trump have anything to worry about, unless … Trump committed a crime that Cohen knows about?

In an interview with the Journal, Goldberg elucidated his concerns about Cohen’s loyalty and the devastating impact it would have if he cooperated with the government. “The mob was broken by Sammy ‘The Bull’ Gravano caving in out of the prospect of a jail sentence,” Goldberg explained.

Again, this makes a lot of sense as a legal defense strategy for a businessman who has probably done a lot of illegal stuff. But as a public-relations strategy, isn’t Trump’s lawyer supposed to say he believes Cohen is innocent, and would be shocked to learn if he did something wrong, because of course Trump has never engaged in any illegal behavior and would never tolerate it among his employees? He’s probably not supposed to casually liken the president of the United States to the boss of a criminal syndicate.

Update: Politico has more reporting on Trump allies expressing concern that Cohen will flip on Trump. All of the sources implicitly assume both Cohen and Trump are guilty of serious crimes. (Because otherwise, Cohen couldn’t give prosecutors any information damaging to Trump.) And many of them also use mafia lingo. “I think for two years or four years or five years Michael Cohen would be a stand-up guy. I think he’d tell them go piss up a rope,” says a defense lawyer who represents a senior Trump aide, “But depending on dollars involved, which can be a big driver, or if they look at him and say it’s not 2 to 4 years, it’s 18 to 22, then how loyal is he?”

Eighteen to twenty-two years sounds like it would involve some pretty serious crimes, huh?

Trump’s Lawyer Forgets to Pretend Trump Is Innocent