Fixer says I will not be a punching bag as part of anyones defense strategy as his lawyer attempts gag order on Stormy Daniels attorney

Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's former personal lawyer, will set” family and country first” as investigations continue into his work for the president, including a payment to an adult film star who claims to have had an affair with Trump.

Cohen's statements, in an off-camera interview with ABC's Good Morning America, will intensify speculation that he may be prepared to ” flip” and cooperate with both prosecutors in New York and investigators looking into Russian election interference and alleged collusion between Trump aides and Moscow.

Cohen separately demanded on Monday afternoon, via documents filed in court in New York, that Stormy Daniels's lawyer, Michael Avenatti, be made the subject of a judicial gag order, accusing him of running a smear campaign against him.

Cohen has frequently been aggressive towards reporters working on stories about Trump. He said last September he was ” the guy who would take a bullet for the president” and would” never walk away “.

But speaking to George Stephanopoulos in the ABC interview, conducted on Saturday at a hotel in New York City, he said:” My wife, my daughter and my son have my first loyalty and always will. I put family and country first .”

In answer to the question of whether he expected Trump to turn on him, Cohen said:” I will not be a punching bag as part of anyone's defense strategy. I am not a scoundrel of this story, and I will not permit others to try to depict me that style .”

Cohen's home and offices were raided by FBI agents in April, and files seized, after a referral from Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating matters related to Russia and the Trump campaign. On Monday, national courts released to the government 1.3 m documents not designated” privileged, partly privileged or highly personal “. According to a court document, the Trump Organization was reviewing 22,633 remaining items, with a deadline of Thursday.

Good Morning America (@ GMA)

In @GStephanopoulos‘ exclusive interview with Pres. Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen, Cohen stays mum on commitment to his longtime client:” To be crystal clear, my spouse, my daughter and my son, and this country have my first loyalty .” https :// t.co/ V7gE1FomMf pic.twitter.com/ TPu7kkiOpJ

July 2, 2018

Cohen has not been charged with any crime. He told ABC:” Once I understand what charges might be filed against me, if any at all, I will defer to my new attorney, Guy Petrillo, for guidance .”

Petrillo is a former federal prosecutor who was once head of the criminal division of the US attorney's office in Manhattan.

Cohen could face charges including bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations in connection with a limited liability corporation he put in before the election, Essential Consulting LLC, to facilitate a $130,000 paymentin 2016 to the pornographic performer Stormy Daniels, who claims she had sex with Trump more than a decade ago, during the course of its early period of his matrimony to now first lady Melania Trump.

After the election, Cohen use the LLC as a basket to catch hundreds of thousands of dollars of payments from firms with business before the new administration and from an investment firm connected with a Russian oligarch.

On Monday, Brent Blakely, an lawyer for Cohen, argued that media-friendly Avenatti should be the subject of a restraining order to prevent him speaking to reporters and releasing any information about the criminal case, in order to ensure his client receives a fair trial.

According to tribunal documents filed on Monday, Cohen argues that because Avenatti often appears in television interviews and tweets about the example almost daily, his comments are” aimed at tainting the jury pond “. He called for the federal judge to step in and issue a gag order.

Meanwhile, in April, Trump tweeted that though” most people will flip if the government lets them out of trouble, even if it entails lying or constructing up narratives”, he did not” find Michael doing that “. He also called Cohen a” penalty person with a wonderful family “.

Trump denies collusion with Russia. He has denied Daniels's claims of an affair. But in May his current lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, had acknowledged that Trump reimbursed Cohen for the $130,000 payment, which Daniels claims was stimulated in order to keep her quiet. Filings by Trump proved pays of $250,000 to Cohen in 2017.

Cohen did not discuss the Daniels payment with ABC.” I want to answer ,” he said.” One day I will answer. But for now, I can't comment further on advice of my attorney .”

Of his work for Trump, he said:” As an lawyer and as an employee, I tried to make good-faith judgments in the past. I also acknowledge that I am not perfect. I would prefer not to be in this situation at all, obviously.

” I want to regain my name and my reputation and my life back .”

Regarding Trump's recurred assert that the Mueller investigation is a ” witch-hunt”, Cohen said:” I don't like the word witch-hunt. As an American, I disown Russia's or any other foreign government's attempt to interfere or meddle in our democratic process, and I would call on all Americans to do the same .”

Trump last week tweeted that Russia” continues to say they had nothing to do with Meddling in our Election !” He will satisfy Vladimir Putin in Helsinki later this month.

Cohen said he respected the” unanimous conclusions” of” our nation's intelligence agencies” that Russia did interfere and added:” Simply accepting the denial of Mr Putin is unsustainable .”

Cohen told ABC he believed Mueller would not find evidence he colluded with Russians himself.

Read more: www.theguardian.com