Michael Cohen’s recent interview with ABC News’ Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos was a “declaration of independence two days before July 4,” according to one of Cohen’s new attorneys.
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“This is a new Michael Cohen with a new attitude about speaking his mind,” said Lanny Davis, in an interview with Hill.TV, his first since signing on to Cohen’s legal team.
Cohen – President Trump’s longtime personal attorney and fixer – is under investigation by federal prosecutors in New York for potential violations of banking and election laws. On April 9 federal agents executed search warrants on his home, law office and hotel room. Cohen has not been charged.
In recent weeks, Cohen has retained a new legal team that includes Davis, a former Clinton White House official who recently published a book contending that former FBI Director James Comey cost Hillary Clinton the 2016 election. Davis is also the co-founder Trident DMG, a public relations and crisis management firm.
The other new Cohen hire is Guy Petrillo, a former federal prosecutor who once led the criminal division of the US Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York, the very office overseeing the criminal investigation of Cohen.
On Tuesday, a federal judge overseeing the review of more than 4 million items seized in the Cohen raids approved a request from Petrillo for access to the materials.
The shakeup of the legal team is just one indication that Cohen is signaling a willingness to cooperate with federal investigators, even if that could place his former boss in legal jeopardy.
Cohen wants “to hit the reset button,” Davis said.
“There was a meaning and effect of what Mr. Cohen said to George Stephanopoulos,” Davis said in the Hill.TV interview, noting that Cohen had staked out numerous positions opposite to the president on the Russia investigation, the conduct of the FBI and the now infamous Trump Tower meeting in June of 2016, when members of the Trump campaign met with several Russians after being promised dirt on Hillary Clinton.
“He was very specific in taking 180 degree opposite positions from President Trump,” Davis said, while also denying reports that Cohen was using the interview with Stephanopoulos as a lifeline to Trump to help him out with his mounting legal fees.
“There is no intent to seek help from Mr. Trump,” Davis said.
As for Cohen’s previous boast that he “would take a bullet” for the president, Davis said “I don’t believe he would say that today.”
Davis also addressed in the interview comments from President Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, who said on Sunday that he had “zero” concerns about what Cohen might have to tell prosecutors.
“As long as he tells the truth, we’re home free,” Giuliani said on This Week with George Stephanopoulos.
On Monday – Davis tweeted, "Did @rudygiuliani really say on Sunday shows that @michaelcohen212 should cooperate with prosecutors and tell the truth? Seriously? Is that Trump and Giuliani definition of ‘truth’? Trump/Giuliani next to the word ‘truth’ = oxymoron.”
Davis told Hill.TV that his tweet was “half tongue-in-cheek” but also “half serious.”
It was a message, Davis said, that Giuliani’s “strategy of saying to Michael Cohen, 'if you speak the truth, you have nothing to worry about' was in our interpretation the exact opposite. We, on the Michael Cohen side are saying… 'now is my time to speak the truth, the real truth.'”