Cohen Might Not Have Turned on Trump if Giuliani Hadn’t Blown Him Off

The president’s lawyer says he didn’t respond in part to avoid witness tampering.

Douglas Christian/ZUMA

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President Donald Trump might have avoided his falling out with his former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, had it not been for lapses in communication, the New York Times reports.

According to interviews and communications obtained by the paper, Cohen’s loyalty to Trump began to flag after the president’s legal team curbed communication with Cohen and a legal adviser, Robert Costello. Cohen was still reportedly seeking a way to avoid turning on his former boss, even after FBI raids of Cohen’s home, hotel, and office. But Trump’s lead attorney, Rudy Giuliani, didn’t respond to overtures from Costello, in part because he says he did not want to do anything that could be perceived as witness tampering.

The lack of communication began to take a toll on Cohen, who initially stayed on Trump’s side but grew increasingly anxious, particularly after the administration did not commit to offering a presidential pardon should he need one.

“It seemed like an unfortunate but sensible decision,” Costello, who had advised Cohen but not been formally retained, told the Times of the Trump team’s lack of communication with Cohen. “The more I look back at it, the more I wonder if it was inevitable that Michael was going to crack.”

Costello texted Giuliani in June, letting him know that Cohen needed some type of reassurance.

“Basically he needs a little loving and respect booster,” Costello wrote in a text to Giuliani. “He is not thinking clearly because he feels abandoned.”

Cohen never got the “respect booster” he sought in the case against him about hush money paid to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. He turned on his old boss, calling him a “racist,” “con man,” and “cheat,” during congressional testimony. He alleged that behind closed doors, Trump often said disparaging things about black people, and he said the president used money from his foundation to purchase a painting of himself.  

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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