Cohen’s intentions remain a mystery

WASHINGTON (AP) — The hiring of a Washington insider to be a public attack dog. Tantalizing leaks to the media. Puzzling allegations of actions that could fell a president. Talk of more to come.

What is Michael Cohen up to?

President Donald Trump’s ex-lawyer has largely stayed out of the spotlight in the months since federal agents raided his office and hotel room and seized scores of records about his work for Trump. But this week, he has taken a sharply more aggressive and public turn, seeming to wage open warfare with the White House while weighing whether to cooperate with investigators. The moves suggest Cohen is looking for a way out of looming trouble. But his behavior doesn’t quite line up with a clear strategy, legal experts say. And if his signals are aimed at Trump, they’ve largely served to infuriate the president.

Three days after Cohen’s new lawyer, Lanny Davis, released a tape of Cohen and Trump talking about paying for Playboy model Karen McDougal’s silence, the relationship splintered further Friday. That was after a CNN report that Cohen was willing to tell special counsel Robert Mueller that Trump knew in advance of a 2016 meeting at Trump Tower in which the Republican candidate’s eldest son sought damaging information from a Russian lawyer about Hillary Clinton.

Trump on Friday vehemently repeated his denial that he knew about the meeting, which is at the center of Mueller’s probe, tweeting “NO,” he “did NOT know of the meeting with my son, Don jr.”

CNN cited anonymous sources saying Cohen was willing to share his information with Mueller, who is investigating possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia. Cohen does not have any evidence such as audiotapes verifying his claims, CNN’s sources said.

Cohen’s camp has denied being the source of the CNN report, the basic substance of which The Associated Press independently confirmed.

The specter of the potentially damaging information, which would run counter to months of denials and point toward a willingness to collude with a foreign power by Trump himself, again raised the possibility of what Cohen could deliver to prosecutors if he decides to cooperate.

Cohen has not yet decided to work with the federal prosecutors from the Southern District of New York, according to two people familiar with his thinking.

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