Trump's former personal lawyer says his 'silence is broken'

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Trump has alternately defended Cohen, expressed outrage over a raid by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on the lawyer's office in April and distanced himself from the man who previously said he would take a bullet for Trump.

"My wife, my daughter, and my son have my first loyalty and always will", Cohen told Stephanopoulos Saturday at a NY hotel in a 45-minute off-camera discussion. ("To be crystal clear, my wife, my daughter and my son, and this country have my first loyalty.") In criticizing the Trump Tower meeting in June 2016, he suggested he knows quite a bit more than what has publicly been revealed. Petrillo and the Trump lawyer handling Cohen document review have not responded to requests for comment.

In this May 29, 2018 file photo, President Donald Trump pauses while speaking at a rally at the Nashville Municipal Auditorium, in Nashville, Tenn.

A day later, the FBI raided his home, office and hotel room as part of a probe by federal prosecutors in NY into his personal business dealings.

There has been much anticipation over the weekend of what Michael Cohen may or may not say during this morning's interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos. "His issue is that he doesn't want to be criminally charged or sent to jail and have his family destroyed", the source said.

But while acknowledging that Cohen sounded like a man in search of a cooperation deal, other legal experts said prosecutors nearly always prefer to negotiate such deals in private - not on morning television shows.

Questions have abounded over whether or not Mr Cohen - who denies any wrongdoing - would co-operate with prosecutors. "He wouldn't have to do this complicated dance in the media".

Friends of Cohen's told CNN last month that he has signaled that he is "willing to give" investigators information on the President if that's what they are looking for.

He told the story of participating in White House efforts to hide its involvement in various crimes and of going to Nixon and personally telling him there was a "cancer on the presidency".

JOHNSON: Yeah. This was a little jarring because of course Michael Cohen had been on the record as promising once to take a bullet for Donald Trump.

Cohen is protected by the Fifth Amendment from having to testify about anything at this point, Epner added, saying there are three possibilities for Cohen moving forward. Whether it's pushing Trump to exercise presidential pardon power, pay off legal fees, or threatening to flip, it all adds up to "mak [ing] Trump grovel", she said.

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And Cohen could face criminal charges brought by the state of NY or another state that Trump would be powerless to pardon, as the constitution states the president may only pardon federal crimes.

Trump's longtime lawyer previously said he acted on his own volition in paying Daniels and that he did not plan on repayment from Trump. Cohen said in the tweet.

If that happens, Cohen insisted that he will not allow himself to become a "villain" through Trump or his representatives. It was reported at the time that Cohen is being investigated for possible bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations. A judge had appointed the special master to determine whether some documents were subject to attorney-client privilege and should be withheld from prosecutors. There's no way to know for sure because Cohen has not been charged with anything.

He also told ABC he would fully cooperate with USA special counsel Robert Mueller and that he had provided documents but not yet been interviewed by Mr Mueller's team.

Cohen will therefore soon be charting out his own legal strategy, giving Trump no visibility into what his old fixer is planning for his defense against prosecutors. He also retained a new lawyer, Guy Petrillo, a former chief of the criminal division of the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan.

Many legal experts consider this the latest sign that Cohen, who is under federal criminal investigation, is readying to "flip" and cooperate with the government. "When people that are targets of investigations are talking about doing what's best for their family, it's inevitably a code for cooperating and getting the best deal they can from prosecutors".

Cohen admitted paying Daniels $130,000 in exchange for her signing the "hush agreement".

"I want to answer". "My wife, my son and my daughter have my first loyalty and always will", he confirmed.

He declined to answer if Trump himself knew about the meeting before it happened, referring to advice from his counsel concerning the federal investigation underway in NY. Cohen said maybe someday he will share that information.

In comments which appeared to further distance himself from Mr Trump, Mr Cohen said: "I don't like the term witch hunt".

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