- The Washington Times - Friday, November 30, 2018

President Trump’s longtime attorney and fixer Michael Cohen — now a key witness for special counsel Robert Mueller — believed the president would offer him a pardon in exchange for backing the president during interviews with federal prosecutors, CNN reported Friday night.

Cohen, who pleaded guilty Thursday to lying to Congress, returned from a March trip to the president’s private club at Mar-a-Lago under the impression he would be pardoned if was charged for facilitating hush payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, CNN reported. Mr. Trump was also at Mar-a-Lago at the time, although it is unclear if they spoke, CNN said citing sources.

People close to the president reportedly assured Cohen Trump would take care of him during the Mar-a-Lago visit, CNN said. That vow was repeated in April after the FBI raided Cohen’s offices and homes, the outlet reported. Although it is unclear who had contacted Cohen.

Rudy Giuliani, the president’s attorney in the Russia case denied the report.

“The President of the United States never indicated anything to Michael, or anyone else, about getting a pardon,” Mr. Giuliani told CNN. “Pardons are off the table, but it’s not a limitation on his power in the future to pardon in any case.”

Mr. Trump initially defended Cohen after the raid, calling him “a good man.” The president blasted the raids, calling it “a disgraceful situation.”

But Cohen realized things were starting to fall apart when Mr. Trump began distancing himself his longtime attorney, a source told CNN. During a Fox and Friends interview after the raids, the president said Cohen only did a “tiny, tiny little fraction,” of his legal work.

That is when Cohen knew things had changed and moved to protect himself and his family, CNN reported citing sources.

Cohen, who famously said he would take a bullet for Mr. Trump, pleaded guilty in August to bank and campaign finance law violations related to the $130,000 Stormy Daniels payment.

Ms. Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, alleged she had an affair with Mr. Trump before he became president. Mr. Trump has denied the claim, although he acknowledged he was aware of the payments.

On Thursday, Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about his contacts with Russia about a plan to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. His plea agreement included cooperation with Mueller’s team probing possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Mr. Trump unloaded on Cohen after the guilty plea, calling him a “weak” person and a liar. He accused his former attorney of “making up a story” to get a lighter sentence.

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