Cohen told associates he expected to be Trump’s first chief of staff: report
President Trump’s longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen reportedly told friends during the 2016 presidential race that he expected to be chosen as Trump’s White House chief of staff, a position that eventually went to Reince Priebus.
The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Cohen also believed he would be tapped to be Trump’s campaign chief, but the role was instead handed to Breitbart News executive Stephen Bannon.
The details in the report, which explores the relationship between Trump and his longtime personal fixer, comes one day after Cohen asserted his Fifth Amendment rights in a lawsuit filed against him by adult-film star Stormy Daniels.
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, received $130,000 from Cohen as part of a nondisclosure agreement weeks before the 2016 election in what she said was an effort to prevent her from speaking publicly about her alleged affair with Trump.
Daniels sued the president over the agreement, saying it was not valid because Trump never signed it. She is also suing Cohen, claiming defamation.
The payment is said to be under investigation by federal prosecutors in New York, who are probing Cohen’s business activities.
The FBI searched Cohen’s office, hotel room, house and safe deposit accounts earlier this month, with agents reportedly taking documents related to Cohen’s work with Trump.
Trump and Cohen have a long history of working together, with Cohen serving as Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer for more than a decade. Cohen has also worked as an executive at the Trump Organization on various business deals.
However, Trump sought to downplay Cohen’s work for him earlier Thursday, saying the lawyer did a “tiny fraction” of his overall legal work.
The president also asserted that the federal criminal probe related to Cohen’s business dealings and not his work with Trump.
“This has nothing to do with me,” Trump said during a telephone interview with “Fox & Friends.” “I’m not involved and I’ve been told I’m not involved.”