The Slatest

Michael Cohen Doesn’t Want a Pardon, Does Want $500K in Donations for His “Truth Fund”

Michael Cohen surrounded by cameras in front of a courthouse.
Michael Cohen exits the Federal Courthouse on Tuesday in New York City.
Yana Paskova/Getty Images

The morning after a very newsy day for President Donald Trump’s former associates, Michael Cohen’s lawyer was letting the world know his client was not interested in a pardon from Donald Trump.

Lanny Davis made the rounds on the morning show circuit Wednesday to insist his client—a man who once said he’d take a bullet for Trump—believed the president to be a criminal and was not interested in any more connection with him.

“I know that Mr. Cohen would never accept a pardon from a man that he considers to be both corrupt and a dangerous person in the oval office,” Davis told NPR. “And [Cohen] has flatly authorized me to say under no circumstances would he accept a pardon from Mr. Trump.”

Davis went on to criticize what he sees as Trump’s abuse of his power to pardon, which, he said, the president uses “to relieve people of guilt who committed crimes, who are political cronies of his.”

He added: “Mr. Cohen is not interested in being dirtied by a pardon from such a man.”

What Cohen is interested in, his attorney made clear, was another form of help. Davis also set up a GoFundMe page, or as he calls it, a “Truth Fund,” on Tuesday “to help Michael Cohen and his family as he goes forward on his journey to tell the truth about Donald Trump.” The page is asking for $500,000 in donations and has so far raised around $32,000.

Davis’ comments Wednesday made for a more personal and direct attack on the president. The night before, just after his client pleaded guilty to eight counts in a federal court of charges related to tax evasion and campaign finance, Davis focused more on the information Cohen might have of value to the Mueller investigation.

Speaking to Rachel Maddow on Tuesday night, Davis said that Cohen was ready to help Mueller:

Mr. Cohen has knowledge on certain subjects that should be of interest to the special counsel and is more than happy to tell the special counsel all that he knows, not just about the obvious possibility of a conspiracy to collude and corrupt the American Democracy system in the 2016 election—which the Trump tower meeting was all about—but also knowledge about the computer crime of hacking and whether or not Mr. Trump knew ahead of time about that crime and even cheered it on.*

Davis told Maddow that the public should expect to now see “a liberated Michael Cohen speaking truth to power.”

Davis also told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on Wednesday that there are “certainly” more tapes and that Trump “committed a criminal act that corrupted our democracy.”

In court, Cohen didn’t refer to Trump by name but instead referenced “a federal candidate for office.” In the plea document, he said he had been working to “influence the election” on behalf of someone called “Individual-1,” who later became president of the United States. Cohen has accused Trump of directing him to use hush money to stifle the stories of Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels, who have both said they had affairs with Trump.

On Wednesday morning, Trump had something to say about that:

Update, Aug. 22, 2018, at 12:30 p.m.: This post has been updated to provide Davis’ full phrasing in his quote to Rachel Maddow.