DONALD Trump’s lawyer has vowed to protect his family and country first in an explosive interview distancing himself from the US President.
Michael Cohen – who once said he would take a bullet for the billionaire businessman – said he would fight back if Trump or his legal team tried to discredit him.
He also indicated he would be cooperative with prosecutors investigating his business dealings and probes into Russian meddling in the 2016 US election.
The FBI raided Cohen’s home, office and hotel room as part of a probe by federal prosecutors in New York back in April.
In his first interview since the raid Cohen told ABC that protecting Trump is not his priority.
He said: “My wife, my daughter and my son have my first loyalty and always will.”
Cohen, the President’s longtime personal lawyer and fixer, added: “I put family and country first.”
Cohen, who hasn’t been charged, wouldn’t say if he would cooperate with prosecutors in the probe.
But he did take issue with some of Trump’s criticisms of the special counsel’s Russia investigation – even going out of his way to praise the FBI.
He added: “I don’t agree with those who demonize or vilify the FBI.”
The raid, he added, “was obviously upsetting to me and my family. Nonetheless, the agents were respectful, courteous and professional”.
Robert Mintz, a former federal prosecutor now in private practice, said that Cohen “has sent every signal he possibly can to prosecutors that he will put his own interests first and will jump at any deal that may save him from going to jail”.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders would not comment on whether the president was concerned about the possibility Cohen would strike a deal with prosecutors.
Cohen was Trump’s self-described fixer and a key player in the Trump organisation for more than a decade.
In a Fox News interview last year, Mr. Cohen declared: “I will do anything to protect Mr. Trump.”
He also told Vanity Fair: “I’m the guy who would take a bullet for the president. I’d never walk away.”
Investigators are looking into a payment he handled as part of a confidentiality agreement with porn star Stormy Daniels, who says she had an affair with Trump in 2006. Trump denies that.
Cohen in the past has said that the payment was made on his own initiative. But in the ABC interview, he said he couldn’t comment on advice of his lawyer.
“I want to answer. One day I will answer,” he said.
He was asked how he might respond if the president or his legal team came after him and tried to discredit the work he did for Trump over the last decade.
Cohen added: “I will not be a punching bag as part of anyone’s defense strategy.”
In April Trump blamed news outlets for trying to destroy his relationship with Cohen, tweeting that he did not think he would “flip” allegiances.
Trump has denied collusion with Russia, calling the investigation a witch hunt, while Moscow has denied election meddling.
Cohen, who has not been charged with any crimes and his lawyer Guy Petrillo, are understood to have not immediately responded to a request for comment.
We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online news team? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0207 782 4368. You can WhatsApp us on 07810 791 502. We pay for videos too. Click here to upload yours.