President Trump is flipping his lid over his former lawyer and other longtime confidants cooperating with prosecutors.
Amid a week in which he was directly implicated in a criminal conspiracy, Trump fumed — using language worthy of a "Goodfellas” character — about “flippers” turning state’s evidence against those higher up the food chain.
The President went so far as to say it might be better if “flipping” were illegal because people “just make up lies.”
“I know all about flipping,” Trump told Fox News last week. “For 30, 40 years I’ve been watching flippers. Everything’s wonderful, and then they get 10 years in jail and they flip on whoever the next highest one is, or as high as you can go.
“It almost ought to be outlawed,” he added. “It’s not fair.”
His wiseguy-like remarks have led to speculation that Trump truly fears what information his former loyalists may see fit to share as legal and political battles rage around the President and talk of impeachment escalates.
“The President’s comments regarding flippers would seem to indicate a nervousness about what his associates might reveal to prosecutors and thus what might put him in jeopardy of impeachment and eventual legal prosecution,” Princeton professor Keith Whittington told the Daily News.
Even Trump’s own attorney, former prosecutor and mayor Rudy Giuliani, had trouble standing behind the suggestions the President made about cooperation, telling The News Friday that his client “is not a lawyer.”
“I don’t think he’s against the idea of cooperation,” Giuliani said. “He’s against the idea of getting people to lie. I’m not troubled by his comments.”
Before the President could make Michael Cohen an offer he couldn’t refuse, Trump’s former personal attorney agreed to take a plea deal on fraud charges and admitted to prosecutors he paid off a pair of women to silence their claims of decade-old affairs with the former reality TV star.
In doing so, Cohen admitted he made the arrangements under Trump's direction in order to influence the 2016 election.
Days later, it was revealed that longtime Trump friend David Pecker, the CEO of the company that owns the National Enquirer, cooperated with prosecutors in the case against Cohen.
On Friday, reports emerged that Trump Organization Chief Finance Officer Allen Weisselberg was also granted immunity in the probe.
The weeklong legal onslaught, which for the first time saw the myriad criminal probes swirling around the President fully breach his inner orbit, was coupled with Paul Manafort’s conviction on tax and bank fraud.
Trump praised his former campaign chairman as “a brave man” for not cooperating with investigators – as aides speculated about Trump possibly considering a pardon.
Critics say Trump’s public statements show he’s panicked about the developments.
“They are the comments of a man who has no respect for the law,” said Allan Lichtman, a political historian who teaches at American University. “They are evidence of a President who deeply fears impeachment and knows that these are the players who could put him in that position.”
But a senior White House official disputed the notion that the President was visibly upset over the news and told the Associated Press said it was essentially business as usual in the West Wing.
It's unclear what Cohen, Pecker or Weisselberg have to offer prosecutors. Cohen’s plea deal did not include an outright cooperation agreement, and reps for the other two men did not respond to requests for comment.
Lanny Davis, Cohen’s attorney, spent hours in front of television cameras insinuating that his client would be more than willing to share information with special counsel Robert Mueller.
“My observation is that Michael Cohen knows information that would be of interest to the special counsel, in my opinion, regarding both knowledge about a conspiracy to corrupt American democracy by the Russians and the failure to report that knowledge to the FBI," Davis told MSNBC.
Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti noted that immunity deals such as the one granted to Pecker and Weisselberg typically mean there will be more cooperation down the road.
“Clearly Weisselberg’s testimony helped the case against Cohen, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t or won’t implicate others, and he has to cooperate with prosecutors going forward,” Mariotti tweeted. “Time will tell whether Weisselberg provides testimony against Trump and others.”
While some see Cohen as the first domino that will lead to Trump's downfall, others disagree.
Sam Nunberg, a former Trump campaign adviser who worked with Cohen, said the President's erstwhile consigliere is simply not credible.
“I think Michael gave bad lawyering to the President,” he told The News. “The idea that he's going to be able to take down this President is wishful thinking.”