The question of whether Michael Cohen, the former fixer and personal attorney for President Donald Trump, would flip on his former boss has been the subject of intense speculation in the media and in the halls of power since the Federal Bureau of Investigation raided his offices and residences in April. In April, he tweeted: "I will always protect my POTUS".
But now that special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating Cohen's role during Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and NY prosecutors probe Cohen's business deals, he took a decidedly different tack in an interview with ABC News.
"To be crystal clear, my wife, my daughter and my son, and this country have my first loyalty", he said.
US President Donald Trump boards Air Force One before departing from Morristown Municipal Airport in Morristown, New Jersey, on July 1, 2018, following a weekend in Bedminster, New Jersey.
"I don't agree with those who demonize or vilify the FBI", Cohen was quoted as saying. Besides Cohen's office, agents also searched a hotel room at the Loews Regency where he's been staying while his home is under renovation. "I respect the Federal Bureau of Investigation as an institution, as well as their agents".
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If and when Cohen decides to talk about a possible deal, legal experts think he may have to sit tight for a while since prosecutors in NY may view such an entreaty as premature.
"By putting distance between himself and the president on issues both large and small", Mintz added, "he's telegraphing to prosecutors that he intends to be his own man and in the end will do exactly what he thinks is best for himself and his family".
Cohen was Trump's longtime fixer and a key player in the Trump Organization.
After the Federal Bureau of Investigation showed up at his home, office, and hotel room in April, much of Michael Cohen's time - and the time of Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump, Alan Dershowitz, and so on, have been - has been spent arguing about when it had all of a sudden become appropriate to raid a lawyer's office.
He also criticized members of the Trump campaign who took part in a meeting at Trump Tower in June 2016 with Russians promising "dirt" on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, calling it an "example of poor judgment".
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The consensus seems to be that Cohen is in fact planning to cooperate with the NY prosecutors investigating his business dealings, or that he is angling for a presidential pardon by signaling to his former boss that his allegiance is conditional.
Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 in the waning days of the 2016 presidential election - a possible violation of campaign finance law - to keep mum about an alleged decade-old sexual liaison with the president.
The declaration was a far cry from earlier statements made by Cohen. But in the ABC interview, he said he couldn't comment on advice of his lawyer. This time Cohen answered, "I want to answer. One day I will answer", he said.
But Cohen told ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos that he respects the prosecutors and the process.
"Once I understand what charges might be filed against me, if any at all, I will defer to my new counsel, Guy Petrillo, for guidance", Cohen told ABC News. Cohen and his lawyer, Guy Petrillo, did not immediately respond to Reuters' request for comment.
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"I believe it was a mistake by those from the Trump campaign who did participate", Cohen said.