Trump Confidants: Michael Cohen Will Sing Like a Canary If He Faces Prison Time

FILE - In this Sept. 19, 2017 file photo, President Donald Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen appears in front of members of the media after a closed door meeting with the Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill, in Washington. Federal agents carrying court-authorized search warrants have seized documents from Cohen according to a statement from Cohen’s attorney, Stephen Ryan. He says that the search warrants were executed by the office of the U.S. Attorney for Southern District of New York but they are “in part” related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

Throughout the 2016 campaign, Michael Cohen’s name surfaced plenty of times. He had a now-famous exchange with CNN’s Brianna Keilar in which Cohen asked, “Says who?” repeatedly when Keilar said Trump was losing. Naturally, Cohen got the last laugh when Trump won, but the exchange was entertaining, nonetheless.

Not known at the time by the general public about Cohen was just what kind of law he practiced. People familiar with Trump before he made his presidential aspirations knew Cohen was no legal eagle but it’s only been over the last several months that people came to know that Cohen is a “fixer.” He’s not the attorney you find in a courtroom. He’s the kind that brokers deals, cleans up messes and does what he can to keep specific stories about his client — Trump — from making it to the press.

Cohen has limited value. And Cohen faces severe legal peril related to some of the work done for one Donald J. Trump. Cohen, having watched Trump over the 16 months throw even the most trusted people under the proverbial bust, must know his boss won’t stick his neck out to protect him. Cohen also doesn’t come across as someone willing to spend time in jail. People close to Trump know this:

“That’s what they’ll threaten him with: life imprisonment,” said Alan Dershowitz, the liberal lawyer and frequent Trump defender who met with the president and his staff over two days at the White House last week. “They’re going to threaten him with a long prison term and try to turn him into a canary that sings.”

In an interview with CNN last week, Cohen called the raid “unsettling to say the least.” But he also said in the same interview that the federal agents were “extremely professional, courteous and respectful” — a dramatic departure from his usual combative style.

Those comments raised eyebrows among some in Trump’s inner circle, who noted that one of the president’s most ferocious attack dogs seemed unusually taciturn.

“When anybody is faced with spending a long time in jail, they start to re-evaluate their priorities, and cooperation can’t be ruled out,” said one Trump ally who knows Cohen.

Then there’s this nugget, courtesy of White House press secretary Sarah Sanders:

The White House appears to be creating some distance from Cohen. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters earlier this week that though Trump and Cohen have “still got some ongoing things,” the president “has a large number of attorneys, as you know.”

We’re heading in the direction where “has a large number of attorneys” turns into, “This guy barely did any work for President Trump.” Then Trump will take to Twitter, exclaiming that while Cohen is a “good guy,” he didn’t know much about Trump or his businesses, etc. etc. It will be the usual crap-storm.

Once it gets to that point and once prosecutors say to Cohen, “You’ll spend your retirement years in a federal penitentiary,” is when the fireworks will start.