Donald Trump’s fusillade of 20-some weekend tweets covered everything from the special counsel’s Russia probe to the Comey memos to North Korea. But he was unusually unhinged over reporting that his longtime lawyer/fixer Michael Cohen might “flip,” working in references to “Crooked H,” “third-rate” reporters, and “a drunk/drugged up” source.
As many people have observed, Trump never thought to derail the specter of Cohen turning on him by simply tweeting, “No way to ‘flip’ when there’s been no wrongdoing.” Trump’s terror implied the real question surrounding Cohen was purely a matter of loyalty, thereby implicitly admitting that potential illegal activity was a given. In that case, Trump figured, it never hurts to lavish on a little praise about what a “fine person” Cohen is “with a wonderful family,” who Trump said he “always liked and respected.”
For Trump, the immediate threat posed by the Southern District of New York’s investigation into Cohen has reportedly upstaged the special counsel’s Russia probe.
“The broader concerns within the White House and with the president are much more about Cohen at the moment than about Mueller,” Washington Post reporter Philip Rucker told MSNBC’s Katy Tur Monday. “He feels a little bit immune from [the Russia probe] at the moment, but he feels very threatened by Cohen, the FBI raid, the seizure of all of those records, and the prospect that Cohen might be pressured by federal investigators to tell a lot of secrets that Trump has been keeping over the years.”
Indeed, Trump’s aides in recent days have reflected slightly less concern about the special counsel investigation than they have about Cohen. Both press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and legislative director Marc Short assured the nation Trump has “no intention” of firing Robert Mueller. But when it came to Cohen, Sanders declined to rule out a pardon for him during Monday’s press briefing.
“It’s hard to close the door on something that hasn’t taken place,” she told reporters.
Frankly, Trump and his aides aren’t the only people speculating that Cohen is in a boat load of trouble and might sell out the president to ease his own legal liability. The last handful of days has included a torrent of reporting warning that Cohen is in a ‘flipping’ mood, if you will, even if he himself doesn’t know it.
One individual, who’s worked closely with Cohen for 10 years, said that “Michael might believe he won’t flip on the president but he will.”
In fact, that’s “frequently” the way it happens after people realize they’re facing real jail time, former federal prosecutor Barbara McQuade told MSNBC on Monday
“Once they see what their criminal exposure is, the loyalty to the boss becomes far less important than the loyalty to their family,” McQuade said on Monday “Often, it’s an easy choice.”
That’s exactly what Trump is afraid of.
P.S. Don’t take your eye off Mueller—danger lurks when he’s been quiet for a while.