Michael Cohen sat down with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos for an interview that aired Friday morning on Good Morning America. Here are the top highlights:
1. He blindly followed Trump for years
Cohen reiterated what he said in court during his sentencing on Wednesday: that he blindly followed President Donald Trump for years while working for him, and that his judgment was clouded as he followed Trump’s directions to commit illegal acts.
2. Trump himself was the one who negotiated the Karen McDougal payment
Cohen talked about the campaign finance violations he pleaded guilty to, and which he said was done at Trump’s direction. He focused on the payment made by National Enquirer publisher American Media, Inc. to former Playboy model Karen McDougal for the rights to her story of an alleged affair with Trump. AMI buried the story, later admitting it was to protect Trump by keeping it from the public.
Cohen said he didn’t even have much to do with that payment, saying the negotiations were “really just between [Trump] and [AMI CEO] David Pecker, and then David Pecker’s counsel,” saying, “I just reviewed the documents.” Cohen said that Trump knew it was wrong, but did it anyway, “to help him and the campaign.”
3. Trump has changed significantly since taking office
Later on, Cohen talked about Trump the man, and how he doesn’t recognize the president as the same person he worked for at the Trump Organization.
“I will tell you that the gentleman that is sitting now in the Oval Office, 1600 Pennsylvania is not the Donald Trump that I remember from Trump Tower. He’s a very different individual.”
4. The president is in over his head
Cohen took a guess at why he thinks Trump has changed, and it has to do with not being prepared for the transition from leading a company to being part of a large system of government.
“I think the pressure of the job is much more than what he thought it was going to be,” Cohen said. It’s not like the Trump Organization when he would bark out orders and people would blindly follow what he wanted done. There’s a system here. He doesn’t understand the system.”
5. Cohen thinks Trump is not telling the truth about Russia
In a key moment, Stephanopoulos brought up the Special Counsel’s Office’s investigation of Trump campaign ties to Russia. When asked if he thinks Trump is currently telling the truth about this subject, Cohen simply said, “No.”
6. Trump appears to be scared
Stephanopoulos brought up the constant attacks that Trump has been leveling towards Cohen on social media. Cohen said it seems like Trump is afraid, because “that’s what he does,” in these situations. When asked if he himself is afraid, Cohen admitted, “It’s never a good thing to be on the wrong side of the president of the United States of America.”
Finally, when asked if he had any advice for the president now, Cohen said, “Lay off Twitter, run the country the way that we all thought that you would … bring the country together, instead of dividing the country.”
[Image via ABC screengrab]