Michael Cohen's new attorney said that Cohen, previously known as Donald Trump's "fixer," declared "independence" during a July 2 interview with George Stephanopoulos when he said he would not be a "punching bag" for Trump's defense strategy.
“I will not be a punching bag as part of anyone’s defense strategy,” Cohen told Stephanopoulos. “I am not a villain in any story and won’t allow others to try and depict me in that way.”
Lanny Davis - Cohen's attorney and longtime friend of the Clintons, made the comment during an interview with The Hill's Rising which aired Wednesday.
"There's a reason that he said at the very end of the interview with Mr. Stephanopoulos that he took these contrary positions to Mr. Trump, who he previously said he would take a bullet for, a comment that I believe he would not say today," Davis said, adding "The reason he said is, 'I will not be a punching bag as part of somebody else's defense strategy.’ This was a declaration of independence two days before July 4."
Stephanopoulos asked Cohen if Trump had directed him to make that $130K hush-money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels. Cohen previously claimed he paid the cash out of own pocket without direction from Trump or any promise of reimbursement. This time Cohen answered, “I want to answer. One day I will answer. But for now I can’t comment further on advice of my counsel.”
“A very, very big signal,” Stephanopoulos translated this morning on GMA.
Similarly, Cohen signaled he would have something to say in “official form” about whether President Trump knew in advance of that Trump Tower meeting between Don Jr., Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner and a Russian attorney with entourage, the latter team allegedly promising dirt on Hillary Clinton. Trump has insisted he was not aware of the meeting. -Deadline Hollywood
Davis then rattled off a list of reasons why Cohen and Trump are nowhere near agreement on various official government positions.
He [Cohen] mentioned the FBI and said he respected the FBI as an institution, and actually thanked them even though they raided his offices. Donald Trump has said the opposite.
He then said he believes the intelligence community's assessment unanimously that Russia meddled in the election, and then he went on to say anyone that believes Mr. Putin can't sustain that position. Exactly the opposite from Mr. Trump.
Then he said that he does not understand that Trump tower meeting, he thought it was a dumb decision - something that Mr. Trump wouldn't necessarily like to hear. -Lanny Davis
When asked to opine on the FBI's conduct during the 2016 election and whether he thought there was any criminal behavior described in the Inspector General's report, Davis said he saw no criminal behavior by any of the subjects of the report, and that former FBI Director James Comey's "terrible judgement" cost Hillary the election.
I think Mr. Comey showed such poor judgement because of the narcissistic view that whatever he decides is right must be right. He gets to violate justice department rules going back 50 years to speak within 11 days of an election. That's a violation. He gets to hold a press conference offering his opinion on criminal investigatory evidence. That's in violation. He should have been fired right after that July 5th press conference. And I hold the Attorney General Loretta Lynch and the Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates responsible for not having the courage to enforce Justice Department policy.
On the prospect of Hillary Clinton running in 2020, Davis said:
no idea, she's a longtime friend of mine and I love her as a friend. After about 47 years from when we first met - she's a great human being, and for her sake and her family's sake - she has so much to give in public service I hope she doesn't put herself through it again.
Watch an excerpt below: