Jun 13, 2018, 8:32 PM ET

As longtime keeper of Trump's secrets, Michael Cohen could make 'dangerous' witness


As Donald Trump’s personal attorney and problem solver, Michael Cohen handled both business and personal matters that ranged from the mundane to the highly sensitive.

Now, sources tell ABC News Cohen is likely to cooperate with federal investigators, and his lawyers are expected to leave the case. The role Cohen could play in any investigation that explores President Trump’s conduct remains uncertain, but legal experts say he could emerge as a crucial source of insight to prosecutors.

“He could be extremely valuable,” said Matthew G. Olsen, a former federal prosecutor and ABC News contributor. “He was not just a personal lawyer but also was President Trump’s so-called fixer for a number of years. So he would have had access to lots of very personal information involving his business dealings.”

Those dealings cover the broad sweep of the Trump’s global empire – including several projects that have caught the attention of federal investigators. Cohen played an integral role in early discussions about a possible Trump Tower in Moscow – negotiations that were going on during the early months of the 2016 presidential campaign.

Cohen has confirmed he attended a lunch meeting with a Ukrainian politician one week after Trump took office, where the two men discussed the potential for Cohen to share a Ukraine peace proposal with his contacts at the White House.

And Cohen’s name appeared repeatedly in the now infamous dossier of unverified allegations, which included salacious claims about Trump, prepared by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele. The agent, who was hired by an opposition research firm that was paid initially by Republicans and later by Democrats, alleged Cohen’s involvement in attempting to covering up contacts between Russian operatives and members of Trump campaign.

Cohen fiercely denied the claims. In January, he tweeted “Enough is enough of the #fake #RussianDossier” before filing a lawsuit against Buzzfeed, the news outlet that first published the document – a suit he later withdrew.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump arrives at Andrews Air Force Base after a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore, June 13, 2018, in Andrews Air Force Base, Md.Evan Vucci/AP
President Donald Trump arrives at Andrews Air Force Base after a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore, June 13, 2018, in Andrews Air Force Base, Md.

As Cohen faces the mounting pressures of a federal criminal investigation, and may be preparing to part ways with his initial defense attorney, there are a range of topics prosecutors may want to explore with him.

“This is a deep intricate relationship built up over many years,” said Seth Hettena, the author of Trump/Russia: A Definitive History. “I think he’s dangerous in a bunch of different ways.”

Most notably, Hettena said, Cohen could shed light on what, if anything, Trump knew about non-disclosure agreements reached with Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, two women who allege they had sexual encounters with Trump years before his presidential run.

Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, entered into a then-secret agreement with Cohen less than two weeks before the 2016 presidential election.

After the Wall Street Journal first reported in January on the hush-money deal with Daniels – which paid her $130,000 in exchange for her silence – Cohen claimed that he had paid her out of his own personal funds and that he had not been reimbursed by the Trump Organization or the campaign.

On April 5, four days before the authorities raided Cohen’s properties in New York, President Trump told reporters on Air Force One that he didn’t know why Cohen had paid Daniels or where he had gotten the money to pay her. The president later acknowledged, in a financial disclosure form filed last month with the Office of Government Ethics, that he had reimbursed Cohen.

Then there is McDougal, who in August 2016 signed a $150,000 deal with American Media Inc., the publisher of the National Enquirer, that transferred to the company the rights to her story of an alleged ten-month romantic affair with Trump. The magazine never published her story. McDougal alleged in a lawsuit filed earlier this year that Cohen had allegedly conspired with her former attorney to bury the story. McDougal settled her lawsuit.

President Trump, through his representatives, has denied the allegations of McDougal and Daniels.

But Cohen, Hettena said, is “the guy who knows where all the bodies are buried.”

News - As longtime keeper of Trump's secrets, Michael Cohen could make 'dangerous' witness

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  • Independent

    I just do not remember any pres. so childish and blaming everyone other than trump. Maybe he needs to leave until he grows up

  • Mike D

    Guess we'll have to put up with Dem attacks for the next 8 years.

    Matthew Mosk, James Hill D-New York?

  • TrumpLovesPelosi

    Trump has a new book coming out.
    "Stormy Donald".

  • Leftcoastrocky

    who would be the more valuable flipper -- Cohen or Manafort

  • Son of Gort

    Well Cohen and his attorneys stated this morning that they will not divulge ANY information regarding his client, President Trump, and the law cannot force him to do so. Sounds like aanother Russian Indictment which went nowhere and I haven't noticed any cuffs or ankle bracelets on Manafort, Flynn or anyone else, nor has anyone spent a single night in detention after 500 days of investigations. This thing has become a worldwide joke and even most Democrats are now sick of it. It didn't help the Dems. Quite the opposite - Three fired FBI executives, one terminated CIA executive, four more facing charges and a dozen Democrat staffers under investigation. I don't think people realize that Mueller was hand selected by Trump and that he has a life-long NDA with Ivanka, Jared, and Manafort through WilmerHale Law Firm (Search Google) where he represented all three as their attorney. It seems Trump may have the last laugh. Art of the Deal by Donald Trump - "Control all the players and hide your hand". It appears he has been behind the "investigation" all along.

  • D Marie

    Interesting the author left out what Cohen likely knows about multiple business deals Trump has done over the years that some suspect were facilitated with bribes. Or how about money-laundering for the Russian Oligarch's? I find it hilariously funny that Trump thought he was going to become this beloved figure by being President while failing to recognize both the opposition to him and that the opposition would include digging up all the skeletons he has hidden over the years. This is what HUBRIS gets you Donald Trump. Good luck with it.

  • Paul Iannello

    Heh Heh..dumpy's in so much hot soup they oughta call um "Won Don"

  • Rodney Bayburn

    “I will pardon him but I don’t need to since I did nothing wrong”. Suuure Donny, suuuure.

  • Thomas

    Trump sure seems nervous for someone who is innocent.

  • gmannfromchitown

    Do you think that Cohen at this point wishes he could go back in time and start over? You know, do things differently.

  • End of Life Ritual

    Every story like this is supposed to be the smoking gun that brings Trump down.

    Except it never is. Don't get your hopes up.

  • toucan

    Just the tip of an iceberg. The dominoes are starting to fall and will pick up speed. Trump is doomed.

  • NuffAlready

    In the photo, as he descends Air Force 1 stairs, he wears the doomsday face of a man who is dreading an impending confrontation with:

    - Mueller
    - and Stormy
    - and the NYAG's office
    - and the Trump U lawsuits
    - and various other miscellaneous lawsuits

    Hows he going to manage all this and still keep on Presidenting?

  • Mindful

    Mother should I build a wall?

  • Mindful

    When the walls come tumbling down

  • Prophet With Honor

    Trump is scared.

  • AlexaGuyer

    Have you ever played Jenga? Cohen is the last piece to be removed before the tower comes tumbling down.

  • Lachesis1044

    mmm, mm, mm. If Cohen flips....wow.

  • Rubber Banned

    You only need a fixer if you have things to fix, and it's obvious Trump always has lots of sleazy and corrupt things that need to be hidden and fixed.

  • ianemdee

    Trump simply hasn't enough fingers on his tiny hands to hold this levee......

  • eeriesponsiple

    Going to be interesting to see which is more accurate - ABC's sources or Giuliani.

  • Orange Juice

    It would really suck to be Trump's right hand man.

  • Matt Higgins

    Writing is on the wall. Trump is 100% finished by Friday afternoon. Totally done. All the evidence is there.

  • Snug Harbour

    I can picture Rudy waving his arMs around shouting " DANGER DANGER DONALD TRUMP ! "

  • Brian Keele

    IT will be interesting to see how they plan to keep Cohen's Attorney-Client privileged information from interviews and/or testimony confidential, if he has any such privileged information.

  • Bob Carrick

    Breaking news

    New York attorney general sues Trump and family over charity, claiming 'illegal conduct' for 'more than a decade'

    More sleaze from the sleaze master

    This is a broad and serious lawsuit which could effect Donnie and his family for years

  • romando benetiz

    blah blah blah.. Just because most of us work real jobs and not for Russian key stroke pushers like you, doesn't mean anything.. Your the one here crying like a little baby constantly, because you know darn well what's about to happen..