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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

Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling

Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Starbucks has dropped plans to require that U.S. workers get the COVID vaccine or submit to weekly testing, the company announced Tuesday in a memo to employees.

Why it matters: The company's decision comes in response to the Supreme Court's ruling last week to block the Biden administration's COVID-19 vaccine-or-test requirement for large employers.

3 hours ago - World

Netanyahu plea talks enter crunch time

Netanyahu (right) meets with his lawyer ahead of a court hearing last February. Photo: Reuven Casto/Pool/AFP via Getty

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's opposition leader and former prime minister, is negotiating a possible plea deal over the corruption charges against him, but Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit appears to be toughening his terms.

Why it matters: Mandelblit leaves office on Jan. 31. Negotiations could continue beyond that point, but the next attorney general may be less interested in quickly reaching a deal.

4 hours ago - Health

Omicron hits American hospitals disproportionately hard

Expand chart
Data: Our World in Data; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

America is seeing more COVID hospitalizations than other wealthy countries during the Omicron surge, according to Our World in Data.

Why it matters: Vaccines keep the vast majority of COVID cases out of the hospital, but vaccination rates are also lower in the U.S. than these other countries.