Rachel Combs / Flickr The FBI raided Trump lawyer Michael...
Rachel Combs / Flickr

Michael Cohen has famously said, “I’d take a bullet for him. I’d never walk away.” What inspires such fierce, unyielding loyalty? It sure isn’t approval because Donald Trump has withheld that, despite Cohen’s doglike devotion. Trump is an abusive boss, who, if anything, rebuffs Cohen’s efforts to please. New York Times:

Over the years, Mr. Trump threatened to fire Mr. Cohen over deals that didn’t work out, or snafus with business projects, people who were present for the discussions said. He was aware that Mr. Cohen benefited in other business projects as being seen as affiliated with the Trump Organization, and it irked him.

“He clearly doesn’t think that Michael Cohen is his Roy Cohn,” said Tim O’Brien, a Trump biographer, referring to Mr. Trump’s former mentor and the president’s ideal for a pit bull-like defender. “I think his abusive behavior to Michael is animated by his feeling that Michael is inadequate.”

“Donald goes out of his way to treat him like garbage,” said Roger J. Stone Jr., Mr. Trump’s informal and longest-serving political adviser, who, along with Mr. Cohen, was one of five people originally surrounding the president when he was considering a presidential campaign before 2016.

Ironically, it’s not all that far fetched that Cohen might indeed have paid $130,000 of his own money to pay off Stormy Daniels if you consider some of the selfless acts he has done on behalf of Trump.

Mr. Cohen has been active in Mr. Trump’s political ventures. When Mr. Trump pondered running for president in 2012, it was Mr. Cohen who went on an early trip to Iowa to meet with Republican operatives and who set up a website called ShouldTrumpRun.org. He even initially sought to pay some of the costs for the site with money raised for his own abortive run for New York State Senate.

Mr. Cohen raised millions of dollars for Mr. Trump in the campaign, at a time when the candidate was struggling to attract support. Mr. Cohen tried to soften the edges as Mr. Trump faced a torrent of criticism for decades of racially divisive remarks, forming a “diversity coalition” to give Mr. Trump cover comprised of African-Americans, Muslims and other groups.

“Nobody else around Donald Trump would have thought to do that for him,” said Darrell Scott, an African-American pastor from Ohio and a friend of Mr. Cohen who helped create the coalition.

Despite this, Cohen was always the odd man out. He never fit in with the rest of the group, and he never got a job in Trump’s administration after he won, probably because there were too many times he pissed Trump off.

Some of Mr. Cohen’s efforts to help only led to embarrassing rebuffs in front of those in charge. A month before the election, Mr. Cohen approached Mr. Trump outside his Trump Tower office with photographs of Bill Clinton and a mixed-race man alleged — without any evidence — to be the former president’s illegitimate son. Mr. Trump knocked the papers away, angrily telling Mr. Cohen to “get that out of my face,” said one former campaign official who witnessed the incident.

Particularly hurtful to Mr. Cohen was the way Mr. Trump lavished approval on Mr. Lewandowski in a way he never did for Mr. Cohen. When Mr. Cohen told Mr. Trump that he believed that Mr. Lewandowski had been behind a negative story about Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump dismissed the comments as simple jealousy, and didn’t pay attention, according to two people familiar with the incident.

Now, the tables are turned.  In their relationship, Trump has always been the top dog. It’s like an episode of The Sopranos where some poor lower level goomba is trying to curry favor with Tony. Only now the dynamic is inverted and Cohen can save or destroy his master.

“Ironically, Michael now holds the leverage over Trump,” said Sam Nunberg, a former aide to Mr. Trump who worked with Mr. Cohen and Mr. Stone. Mr. Nunberg said that Mr. Cohen “should maximize” that leverage.

“The softer side of the president genuinely has an affection for Michael,” Mr. Nunberg said. “However, the president has also taken Michael for granted.” Mr. Nunberg added that “whenever anyone complains to me about Trump screwing them over, my reflective response is that person has nothing to complain about compared to Michael.”

Just like a Greek drama, character is going to dictate the path of the individual and the outcome of the play. Pragmatically, Cohen has a wife and kids and he’s still young. He’s in no position to spend the rest of his life in prison out of some misplaced loyalty to Donald Trump, regardless of having purported his willingness to die. Plus, Cohen has other outside forces threatening his family. He owes $174,000 in back taxes to the State of New York on his taxicabs. He can’t let the taxicab business fold because his wife owns four of them and in the event anything happens to him, that’s her means of support.

In no way can Cohen afford to fall on his sword for Donald Trump, and the smart money is betting against it. Cohen is going to follow his survival instincts, as would anyone, above some nobler cause. And if he’s got the sense God gave a goat he surely must be re-evaluating exactly how noble the cause of serving Donald Trump has really been considering where he’s ended up.

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