Every president exhausts some aides’ loyalty eventually, but it usually doesn’t happen before his first midterm election. In his second summer in office, however, Donald Trump is facing a wave of defections—including tantalizing comments by Michael Cohen, a former Trump Organization lieutenant and attorney, that suggest he might cooperate with prosecutors.
“My wife, my daughter, and my son have my first loyalty and always will,” Cohen told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos in a new interview conducted over the weekend. “I put family and country first.”
As Stephanopoulos noted in the interview, that’s a shift from previous comments Cohen has made about his allegiances—saying he’d “take a bullet” for Trump, or that he’d rather jump from a building than turn on him. Cohen replied, “To be crystal clear, my wife, my daughter and my son, and this country have my first loyalty.”
Since the April raid on Cohen’s home and office, amid a probe into several business affairs, the relationship between Trump and his former aide has become the subject of scrutiny. Even as Cohen made supportive comments about Trump following the raid, the president began creating distance between them. After The New York Times reported in late April that Cohen’s resolve might be softening, Trump tweeted: “Most people will flip if the Government lets them out of trouble, even if it means lying or making up stories. Sorry, I don’t see Michael doing that despite the horrible Witch Hunt and the dishonest media!” But Trump also professed ignorance about what Cohen was doing and said he is no longer his lawyer. Trump’s denials have undermined Cohen’s account of his dealings with Stormy Daniels, with whom Cohen arranged a hush-money deal over an alleged affair. (Cohen has not been charged with any crimes.)