President Donald Trump said Saturday that he doesn't expect Michael Cohen, his longtime personal lawyer and fixer, to "flip" as the government investigates Cohen's business dealings.
Trump, in a series of tweets fired off from Florida on the morning of former first lady Barbara Bush's funeral, accused The New York Times and one of its reporters of "going out of their way to destroy Michael Cohen and his relationship with me in the hope that he will 'flip'" — a term that can mean cooperating with the government in exchange for leniency.
"Most people will flip if the Government lets them out of trouble," even if "it means lying or making up stories," Trump said, before adding: "Sorry, I don't see Michael doing that despite the horrible Witch Hunt and the dishonest media!"
The FBI raided Cohen's home, office and hotel room earlier this month looking for evidence of fraud as they conduct a criminal investigation. That included records related to payments Cohen made in 2016 to adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, both of whom allege having had sexual encounters with Trump, people familiar with the raid have told The Associated Press.
Prosecutors have said they're investigating Cohen's personal business dealings but haven't said what crime they believe he may have committed. Cohen's lawyers have called the raid an assault on attorney-client privilege and Trump has said it was "an attack on our country."
While the president continues to insist publicly that Cohen will remain loyal, some close to both Trump and his lawyer aren’t so sure. Sources close to both men told NBC News that they are concerned Cohen — who once said he’d take a bullet for Trump — could be persuaded to cooperate with federal prosecutors. “Michael might believe he won't flip on the president but he will,” one of five sources who spoke to NBC News this week said.
"It's one thing to be loyal when you're taking shots in the press," the individual continued. "It is another thing to be loyal to a guy who hasn't been loyal to you when it's going to ruin your family."
When asked whether the White House is concerned Cohen will flip, one staffer told NBC News “Of course! Just look at how they're portraying him. They're trying to make him look like Paul Manafort. Some low level staffer..."
Others who spoke to NBC were not concerned. “What's he flipping on?" one source close to the president countered. "The Trump org is a business not the mob. It's ridiculous."
Lawyers for Cohen and Trump have not responded to NBC News’ requests for comment.
In the Saturday tweets, sent shortly after he arrived at one of his Florida golf courses, Trump accused the newspaper of using "non-existent 'sources'" in a Friday story about the relationship between Trump and Cohen, who has said he would "take a bullet" for his boss. The story quoted several people on the record.
Trump also lashed out personally at one of the story's writers, calling reporter Maggie Haberman "third rate" and claiming he has "nothing to do with" her. Trump later deleted and reposted the tweets correcting the spelling of Haberman's name.
Haberman is widely seen as one of the most diligent reporters covering the president and is known to speak with him often. The Times responded on Twitter, saying it stood by the story and praising Haberman, who was part of the team that just won a Pulitzer Prize for its reporting on Trump.
The tweets came as the rest of the country was preparing for the funeral of Mrs. Bush. The president chose not to go to the Houston service, but first lady Melania Trump attended. Trump tweeted that he would watch from Florida.
The president also fired off several other tweets on Saturday attacking the media and fired FBI director James Comey and announcing that he is considering offering a posthumous pardon to boxing's first black heavyweight champion more than 100 years after the late Jack Johnson was convicted by all-white jury of accompanying a white woman across state lines.