A lawyer for Michael Cohen blasted gibes by President Donald Trump concerning Cohen’s family that he compared to threats from a “mafioso don” intended to “intimidate a witness.”
“The president of the United States [is] trying to intimidate a witness that is trying to tell the truth and called him a rat for telling the truth. That sounds like a mafioso don … it creates fear in the family of Michael Cohen,” attorney Lanny Davis told Chuck Todd on MSNBC’s “MTP Daily.”
“There is fear that Mr. Trump has supporters either in this country or maybe abroad that have a motivation to harm,” Davis added.
Davis was addressing different remarks by Trump, including a tweet Friday written in response to a BuzzFeed story Thursday that said the president had directed Cohen, his former personal attorney, to lie about to Congress about Trump’s involvement with a Moscow real estate project during the 2016 presidential campaign. In Friday’s tweet, Trump mentioned Cohen’s father-in-law, who he has claimed should be investigated — without offering any details.
A spokesman for special counsel Robert Mueller issued a statement Friday that BuzzFeed’s report about Trump was not accurate concerning its “description of specific statements to the Special Counsel’s Office, and characterization of documents and testimony.”
Davis, who appeared on MSNBC before the Mueller statement was issued, refused to “confirm or deny” the BuzzFeed article and said the “story stands on its own.” He emphasized that Cohen did not “initiate” the article.
Davis said he wanted to come on MSNBC to “talk about the president of the United States threatening a family. There’s only one person in the country, one president in our history, that would threaten family as a tactic” to stop somebody from telling the truth, he added.
Last Saturday, Trump also attacked Cohen’s father-in-law in an interview with Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro.
Cohen “should give information maybe on his father-in-law because that’s the one that people want to look at. Because where does that money — that’s the money in the family,” Trump said, adding that Pirro would “look into it.”
Davis later told MSNBC that the comments were a “definition of witness tampering and intimidation, and could be obstruction of justice.”
Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison last month and has been cooperating with the Mueller investigation. He had been scheduled to testify before Congress on Feb. 7. Davis told Todd that Cohen has not yet definitely decided that he will testify before Congress because of what he had earlier called “genuine fear” in the wake Trump’s intimidation. Cohen will likely decide within a week or two, Davis said.
Watch the rest of the MSNBC interview in the video above. The section about intimidation begins at 4:15.