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Lanny Davis, Michael Cohen, attorney says his client feels ‘liberated’

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Michael Cohen
Michael Cohen.
Yana
Paskova/Getty Images


  • Lanny Davis, an attorney for President Donald Trump’s
    former longtime lawyer Michael Cohen, told Business Insider on
    Wednesday that his client feels “liberated” after cutting a
    deal with prosecutors.
  • Davis challenged Trump to deny Cohen’s assertions
    “under oath,” like Cohen was when he made them to a federal
    judge on Tuesday.
  • Cohen pleaded guilty on Tuesday to eight
    counts.
  • Cohen said under oath Trump “directed” him to violate
    campaign-finance law just prior to the 2016 presidential
    election to boost his candidacy.

Lanny Davis, an attorney for President Donald Trump’s former
longtime lawyer Michael Cohen, told Business Insider on Wednesday
that his client feels “liberated” after cutting a deal with
prosecutors, saying the “final straw” for Cohen was Trump’s
criticized summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin last
month.

In cutting a deal with federal prosecutors, Cohen pleaded guilty
on Tuesday to five counts of tax evasion, one count of making a
false statement to a financial institution, and two counts
related to campaign-finance violations. Cohen said under oath
that Trump “directed” him to violate campaign-finance law just
prior to the 2016 presidential election to boost his candidacy.

The latter two charges came in connection to payments to former
Playboy model Karen McDougal and porn star Stormy Daniels to
silence their allegations about affairs with Trump.

Davis said he spoke with Cohen to gather his feelings on the plea
deal once he agreed to it. Faced with the potential of 65 years
in prison, the deal narrowed down that sentence to a much more
palatable sentence of three to five years, though the judge
reserves the right to impose a more severe punishment at a
December sentencing hearing.

“I said it’s a mixture of pain for his family and the thought of
going to prison, combined with relief that it’s over — the
uncertainty, cloud, whatever you call it, is over,” Davis said.
“And he’s free in the mental sense of being able to speak his
mind.”

Davis said Cohen told him that description “nailed” how he is
feeling. Cohen was also feeling a sense of “liberation,” Davis
added.

“This is the time he knows he’s going to jail and he feels
liberated that he can finally speak his mind about his concerns
about Donald Trump without a criminal lawyer telling him to ‘be
quiet’ because ‘you’ll upset the prosecutors,'” he said.

Davis, who rose to prominence as an attorney and spokesperson for
former President Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal,
said Trump’s summit with Putin in Helsinki, Finland, was the
“straw that broke the camel’s back” for Cohen. After that
performance, Cohen “got very emotional,” Davis said.

At a press conference, Trump 
cast doubt on the US intelligence
community’s assessment

 that Russia interfered in
the 2016 US presidential election. He also attacked his
Democratic opponents and the FBI, and he said when asked about
the election meddling that he held both countries accountable for
their state of relations.

But before the summit, Cohen “started to unload on me about
Trump’s suitability to be president, his temperament, the
Twitter, the venom, the anger,” Davis said.

Cohen, of course, was one of Trump’s biggest boosters and closest
allies during the presidential campaign. He earlier said he would
“take a bullet” for Trump.

But Davis said Cohen eventually told him that “he never imagined
in a million years that this man he knew and worried about as a
businessman would ever be president of the United States.”

‘Let’s put Donald Trump under oath and deny it’

It’s Cohen’s previous praise and support of Trump that the
president and his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, have pointed
to in recent weeks to label the president’s former fixer as a
“liar.” 

On Wednesday morning, Trump tweeted that Cohen invented
“stories in order to get a ‘deal.'” In a statement that followed
Cohen’s guilty plea, Giuliani said “Cohen’s actions reflect a
pattern of lies and dishonesty over a significant period of
time.”


Lanny Davis
Lanny Davis.
MSNBC

But Davis said if you’re doubting Cohen’s credibility, you’re
also doubting the credibility of the US Attorney’s Office for the
Southern District of New York. Federal prosecutors, as part of
the deal, had Cohen admit to the crimes described in the way that
he did.

“It was their statement that he read,” Davis said. “He didn’t
write that, he had to own up to it.”

Davis said reimbursement checks further back up Cohen’s story,
which was said under oath and penalty of perjury.

“To challenge his credibility while they were paying him back is
illogical,” Davis said. “It increases his credibility that they
paid him back and it was Trump who paid him back.”

Davis added that “if there’s anyone challenging the credibility
of someone, it shouldn’t be Giuliani and Trump,” noting that
Trump said aboard Air Force One earlier this year that he knew
nothing of the Daniels payment, statements that were later proven
false.

“So we simply say, under oath, [Cohen] testified in front of a
federal judge that he was directed by and coordinated with Donald
Trump to commit a campaign violation that is a felony,” Davis
said. “So if they think he lacks credibility, even though it was
the US attorney that caused him to say that, because that was
their evidence, then let’s put Donald Trump under oath and deny
it.”

Davis spoke with Business Insider amid a whirlwind day. Already
by noon Wednesday, he said he had participated in no fewer than
20 interviews and was set to speak with various media outlets
throughout the rest of the day. He said he felt “meshuga,” the
Yiddish word for “crazy.”

One problem with doing so many interviews? He said he was running
out of things to say.

“I don’t have that much [more] to say, which is making it
increasingly awkward,” he said.

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