Politics

Trump Mocks Cohen but Feels ‘Such Respect for’ Manafort

President ripped his former lawyer for turning on him in a plea deal and sympathized with his ex-campaign chairman's legal jeopardy

Image Credit: Shutterstock

President Donald Trump mocked former personal lawyer Michael Cohen and expressed “such respect for” onetime campaign chairman Paul Manafort in a series of tweets Wednesday following Tuesday’s courtroom dramas in New York and Virginia.

“If anyone is looking for a good lawyer, I would strongly suggest that you don’t retain the services of Michael Cohen!” Trump tweeted. “Michael Cohen plead guilty to two counts of campaign finance violations that are not a crime. President Obama had a big campaign finance violation and it was easily settled!”

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Cohen (pictured above left) was Trump’s personal lawyer during the 2016 presidential campaign and once claimed in a Vanity Fair interview that he “would take a bullet for the president.”

But Cohen has since turned on Trump and entered into a plea deal with federal prosecutors, announced Tuesday, on eight felony counts — two of which concerned alleged campaign finance law violations.

Cohen pleaded guilty to facilitating hush money payments to two women — Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal — both of whom claim to have had affairs with Trump. Cohen claimed he did so with the “coordination and the direction of a candidate for federal office.” The unnamed “candidate” presumably is Trump.

Although Trump mocked Cohen, he expressed sympathy for his former campaign chairman’s legal woes. Manafort (pictured above right) was convicted on eight of 18 criminal counts brought against him by special counsel Robert Mueller.

A mistrial was declared on the remaining 10 counts after the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict. All 18 counts were related to financial and tax fraud activities going back a decade prior to Manafort’s campaign work for Trump.

“I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family. ‘Justice’ took a 12 year old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him and, unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to ‘break’ – make up stories in order to get a ‘deal.’ Such respect for a brave man!” Trump tweeted. “A large number of counts, ten, could not even be decided in the Paul Manafort case. Witch Hunt!”

After news of Manafort’s conviction and Cohen’s plea deal broke Tuesday afternoon, Democrats and mainstream media pundits immediately began gloating and predicting the president’s impending downfall.

But Harvard Law School Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz insisted Wednesday during an interview on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” that “the death knell that they have been sounding on some of the other cable television [stations] seems a bit exaggerated.”

“There are many, many steps that have to be taken before the president is in legal jeopardy. First of all, you have to show that it’s a crime,” Dershowitz said of the payments to Daniels and McDougal. “If [Trump] directed someone to do it, intending to pay it back, that’s probably not a crime.”

Related: Cohen Needs ‘Something Other Than His Own Word’ to Hurt Trump

“The election laws are a morass of misdemeanors, felonies, crimes, noncrimes, with exceptions. So you have to get over the legal barrier first,” he added. “Then you have to get over the credibility barrier. The only evidence that the president did anything that might be unlawful, even arguably, comes from a man who’s admitted to being a liar, who has a lawyer-client privilege with the president, unless there are exceptions to it.”

Dershowitz emphasized that Trump is “far away” from being slapped with an “impeachable offense.”

“Even if Cohen wants to testify against Trump, he can’t testify as to any conversations, taped or not taped, that are covered by the lawyer-client privilege,” Dershowitz noted. “So there’s a question about whether or not even that testimony is proper or lawfully admitted under the lawyer-client privileges. These are complicated issues. We are far, far, far from knowing the answers.”

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