AUGUST 16, 2022
- Michael Cohen thinks Donald Trump kept top-secret documents to use as a potential bargaining chip.
- Cohen said Trump could threaten to release classified information to Russia or Iran.
- This information, Cohen said, could be used by Trump as a “get out of jail free card.”
Michael Cohen, who was once former President Trump’s personal lawyer, believes Trump kept top-secret documents at his Mar-a-Lago residence as potential bargaining chips that he could leverage if he were ever at risk of going to jail.
“My belief is that he was going to use it as a bargaining chip, as a get-out-of-jail-free card,” Cohen said on CNN. “The second that they put him in handcuffs, he’ll turn around and say, ‘You don’t seem to understand. I have the documentation showing, for example, where our nuclear launchpads are, or other information — sensitive national security information.”
Cohen painted a scenario in which Trump would threaten to have his “loyal supporters” release the classified information he had kept to Russia, Iran, or “whoever it might be.” He added that he didn’t believe Trump “cared about this country.”
CNN host Alisyn Camerota also asked Cohen if thought any of the documents Trump kept at his Florida home were mementos.
“I’m sure some of it was Kim Jong Un love letters, or a letter he may have received from Vladimir Putin about his Miss Universe pageant, something that he can show off if he ever felt he needed to have that document,” Cohen said.
“But I believe that the sensitive information that’s there was used or was going to be used by him as a get-out-of-jail-free card,” he added.
While executing a search warrant on the property last Monday, the FBI removed 11 sets of classified documents — some of which were marked top secret and concerned nuclear weapons. According to the warrant, the Justice Department is looking into whether Trump broke three federal laws, including the Espionage Act.
For his part, Trump has denied all wrongdoing and claimed without evidence that he declassified all the documents found at Mar-a-Lago. If Trump is convicted of violating the Espionage Act, he faces a 10-year prison sentence.
Following the FBI raid, Cohen publicly rejoiced over how Trump was finally being “held accountable.” He has also speculated that the possible informant within Trump’s ranks who tipped off the FBI about the documents at Mar-a-Lago could be one of the former president’s children or his son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
On Monday, Cohen also speculated that Trump’s next move in the Mar-a-Lago probe would be to find a scapegoat and suggested that this person would likely be Rudy Giuliani, another of Trump’s former personal lawyers.
When contacted for comment, a Trump spokesperson told Insider: “Michael Cohen is a disbarred felon who was found guilty of nearly a dozen charges, inclduding lying to a congressional committee, which makes him the perfect guest for CNN.”
Cohen was Trump’s lawyer and close confidante for a decade. In 2018, he was the subject of a search of his home and office, as part of an investigation into illegal hush-money payments to adult-film star Stormy Daniels.
Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to felonies including tax evasion, campaign finance violations, and bank fraud. He was sentenced in December 2018 to three years in prison and was disbarred in February 2019 by the New York Supreme Court.