Jul 21, 2018

Michael Cohen privately questions Trump's fitness to be president

Michael Cohen arrives with his lawyers at the United States District Court Southern District of New York. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Friends of Michael Cohen have noticed that since Trump's Helsinki press conference with Vladimir Putin he's been more openly questioning Trump's fitness to be president. "It's one thing for him [Cohen] to be concerned about his suitability to be president," a knowledgeable source told me. "It's quite another thing to be concerned about his [Trump's] loyalty to his country."

The source added that Cohen was sending a public signal to this effect when he tweeted, on Monday after Trump's Helsinki press conference: "As I said to @ABC @GStephanopoulos, "I respect our nation's intelligence agencies who determined that Russia, had in fact, interfered or meddled in our democratic process. I repudiate Russia's effort...and call on all Americans to do the same."

Why this matters: The Trump-Cohen relationship broke down a while ago, but now the investigation of Cohen is heating up — with the NYT revealing that Cohen secretly taped Trump — the two have dispensed with the public pretense of loyalty.

  • The question of what Cohen knows about Trump is now a far more compelling question than it was in the days when Cohen would tell anybody who'd listen that he'd take a bullet — and, no doubt, lie — for his boss.

Bottom line: When I texted Cohen today he declined several opportunities to deny he made these comments to friends. He told me he "cannot comment about someone's innuendo." When I replied to Cohen that the sourcing was solid and would he like to contest the way I was characterizing his thinking, he, revealingly, would not do so.

Sneak Peek: Get more stories like this from Jonathan Swan by signing up for our weekly political lookahead newsletter, Axios Sneak Peek. 

Go deeper

Why space is good politics for Trump

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Trump's exuberance around today's scheduled SpaceX launch — including his decision to travel to Florida to watch — goes beyond a personal fascination with astronauts, rockets, and how to make money and wield power in the next frontier.

The bottom line: There's a presidential election in November, and the U.S. space program enjoys wide support across party lines. It's good politics for Trump, at least for now.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 5 a.m. ET: 5,595,091 — Total deaths: 350,752 — Total recoveries — 2,300,985Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 5 a.m. ET: 1,681,418 — Total deaths: 98,929 — Total recoveries: 384,902 — Total tested: 14,907,041Map.
  3. Federal response: DOJ investigates meatpacking industry over soaring beef pricesMike Pence's press secretary returns to work.
  4. Congress: House Republicans to sue Nancy Pelosi in effort to block proxy voting.
  5. Tech: Twitter fact-checks Trump's tweets about mail-in voting for first timeGoogle to open offices July 6 for 10% of workers.
  6. Public health: Coronavirus antibodies could give "short-term immunity," CDC says, but more data is neededCDC releases guidance on when you can be around others after contracting the virus.
  7. What should I do? When you can be around others after contracting the coronavirus — Traveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 30 mins ago - Politics & Policy

When going back to work isn't safe

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As states open up, businesses are starting to call their employees back to work, but many don’t feel safe going back.

Why it matters: This is poised to be the next big challenge in the American economy: workers may be forced to chose between their health and their livelihood.