- President Donald Trump was displeased with a reporter who asked whether he would pardon Michael Cohen, his longtime personal lawyer who is the focus of a criminal investigation.
- Trump said that the question from ABC News’ White House correspondent, Jonathan Karl, was “stupid.”
President Donald Trump was visibly displeased Tuesday when a reporter asked him whether he would consider pardoning Michael Cohen, his longtime personal lawyer who is the focus of a criminal investigation but has not been charged with any crime.
Jonathan Karl, ABC News’ White House correspondent, asked the question during an Oval Office meeting between Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron.
“Stupid question,” Trump responded.
The FBI raided Cohen’s home, office, and hotel room earlier this month as part of a criminal investigation into whether he violated campaign finance laws or committed bank fraud.
Cohen is said to have been a cause for worry in the White House in recent weeks. People close to Trump have suggested Cohen is likely to “flip,” or cooperate with the government by providing information about others in exchange for a lesser punishment.
Cohen, who for years has been a close friend and adviser to Trump, has expressed intense loyalty to the president. He once reportedly said he would “take a bullet” for Trump, and he has handled sensitive matters related to him, including paying the adult-film star Stormy Daniels $US130,000 shortly before the 2016 election to ensure her silence about an alleged affair with Trump.
Since the raid, the White House has sought to distance Trump from Cohen and insisted he won’t flip on Trump because he has no incriminating information on the president.
Watch Trump’s response:
A reporter asked Trump if he would pardon Michael Cohen and he snapped back, "Stupid question."
LOOK AT MACRON'S FACE. pic.twitter.com/A9uKpQ3vb8
— David Mack (@davidmackau) April 24, 2018
But one former assistant US attorney told Business Insider why he thinks Cohen is likely to flip.
“I don’t know whether or not Michael Cohen is a tough guy,” Mitchell Epner said. “But when I hear things in the media like ‘How is this going to affect my family? I need to take care of them’ – if he is actually asking those questions, if that’s real and not fake, then it seems extraordinarily likely that he flips.”
Over the weekend, Trump sought to push back on the assertion that Cohen will flip, blasting a New York Times article on the subject.
Trump tweeted that The Times and its reporter Maggie Haberman were “going out of their way to destroy Michael Cohen and his relationship with me in the hope that he will ‘flip.'”
The president – who dined with Cohen at Mar-a-Lago in the weeks before the raids and phoned him in the days afterward to “check in,” The Times reported – described Cohen as “a fine person with a wonderful family.”
“Michael is a businessman for his own account/lawyer who I have always liked & respected,” Trump continued. “Most people will flip if the Government lets them out of trouble, even if it means lying or making up stories. Sorry, I don’t see Michael doing that despite the horrible Witch Hunt and the dishonest media!”