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"He Is Trying to Make It Right": As the Midterms Approach, Michael Cohen Is Doubling Down on His Civic Duty
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=46677"><span class="small">Emily Jane Fox, Vanity Fair</span></a>   
Tuesday, 16 October 2018 08:28

Fox writes: "Despite having no formal cooperation agreement with the government, Cohen has willingly assisted and provided information critical to several ongoing investigations."

Michael Cohen. (photo: Getty Images)
Michael Cohen. (photo: Getty Images)

"He Is Trying to Make It Right": As the Midterms Approach, Michael Cohen Is Doubling Down on His Civic Duty

By Emily Jane Fox, Vanity Fair

16 October 18

As Trump campaigns, Cohen has willingly talked to government investigators for more than 50 hours.

ver the weekend, Michael Cohen, the former Trump lawyer who famously facilitated a $130,000 payout to the adult-film star Stormy Daniels, demonstrated the ostensibly civic side of his personality. “The #MidtermElections2018 might be the most important vote in our lifetime,” Cohen tweeted on Sunday morning. ”#GetOutAndVote #VoteNovember6th.” The message came days after Cohen’s attorney, Lanny Davis, confirmed that his client had indeed re-registered as a Democrat in advance of the forthcoming midterm elections. It was Cohen’s second go around on the left. He had voted for Obama in 2008 and remained registered as a Democrat until 2017—despite the fact that he was already serving as the Republican National Committee’s deputy finance chair, and only after Steve Wynn, then the R.N.C.’s finance chairman, insisted that he switch.

Other than a few tweets and statements, Cohen has remained relatively quiet since pleading guilty, in August, to violating campaign laws by paying off women who claimed to have had affairs with Donald Trump at what he said, in open court, was the “direction” of the then-candidate. Behind the scenes, however, Robert Mueller’s special investigation into collusion and obstruction of justice continues apace. So does the Southern District’s probe into campaign-finance violations. Despite having no formal cooperation agreement with the government, Cohen has willingly assisted and provided information critical to several ongoing investigations, according to two sources familiar with the situation, in a string of meetings that have exceeded more than 50 hours in sum. (A spokesman for the S.D.N.Y. declined to comment. A spokesperson for the special counsel’s office declined to comment. Cohen declined to comment.) These conversations are the latest manifestation of Cohen's brand of patriotism. In June, Cohen told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that he would no longer be protecting Trump or the Trump family. “To be crystal clear,” he said, “my wife, my daughter, and my son, and this country have my first loyalty.”

Cohen’s disclosures to investigators remain an enigma, but his proximity to the president and his family make him a valuable witness. As The Wall Street Journal first reported earlier this month, and two sources independently confirmed to me, Trump directed Cohen to enforce the non-disclosure agreement with Daniels after the paper first broke the news of its very existence. Trump then deputized his son, Eric Trump, who is currently minding the family business, to coordinate the legal response to confidential arbitration proceedings, which would have prevented Daniels from telling her story publicly. (Daniels taped an interview with 60 Minutes in March. Trump has denied the affair.) Using his Trump Organization e-mail address, Eric approved the statement that the company’s lawyers offered the Journal about the arbitration. (Eric Trump did not respond to a request for comment, nor did a representative from the Trump Organization. The Trump Organization had publicly denied any role in the arbitration, and the president had vowed to cut ties with his business once he took office.) On Monday, a court dismissed the defamation suit brought against Trump by Daniels, ordering her to pay reasonable attorney’s fees.

Cohen has said to friends that he has regrets about his work on behalf of Trump in his capacity as a Trump Organization employee. “What you see now is a return to who he was before all of this,” one longtime friend of his told me. “He’s an open book, and he’s adamant to make it right.”

His old boss, meanwhile, seems equally galvanized by the political moment. As Axios recently noted, Barack Obama had partaken in nine political rallies during his first two years in office. Trump, on the other hand, has attended 33, from Nevada to Ohio and Kentucky to Montana. One theory for the activity is simple: fear. With three weeks to the midterm elections, Trump is staring down what could be the greatest threat to his presidency. Should Democrats flip the House of Representatives, or, in a decidedly less likely scenario, take the Senate, the Trump-administration agenda would be effectively stalled. Furthermore, a Democratic-controlled legislature, freed from the kinds of constraints Republican lawmakers have relied on to protect the president, could prompt investigations into the Trump Organization, his payment to Daniels, as well as Jared Kushner’s security clearance and business dealings. They could investigate his Cabinet secretaries’ travel and businesses, his administrations’ handling of the travel ban, the hurricane in Puerto Rico, and, of course, the firing of James Comey.

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