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Trump defends Cohen after NYT report

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Attorney Michael Cohen arrives at Trump Tower for meetings with President-elect Donald Trump on December 16, 2016 in New York. (Photo: BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump aggressively defended his personal lawyer Saturday morning after The New York Times reported on Trump’s sometimes poor treatment of the attorney, Michael Cohen, who the newspaper said might cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller in his probe into Russian election meddling.

In a series of tweets peppered with insults against the Times’ White House correspondent, Maggie Haberman, and her sourcing, Trump wrote that she and the newspaper “are going out of their way to destroy Michael Cohen and his relationship with me in the hope that he will ‘flip.’ They use…….non-existent ‘sources’ and a drunk/drugged up loser who hates Michael, a fine person with a wonderful family.”

“Michael is a businessman for his own account/lawyer who I have always liked & respected,” Trump continued. “Most people will flip if the Government lets them out of trouble, even if…… means lying or making up stories. Sorry, I don’t see Michael doing that despite the horrible Witch Hunt and the dishonest media!”

It is unclear who the President was describing as “a drunk/drugged up loser” who hates Cohen. The Friday article quotes longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone and Sam Nunberg, a former Trump aide who has worked with Cohen and Stone, along with Trump biographers Tim O’Brien and Michael D’Antonio, and Ohio pastor Darrell Scott.

CNN has reached out to the White House to ask who the President was referring to as a “drunk/drugged up loser who hates Michael” Cohen.

Cohen’s spokesman, David Schwartz, declined to comment to CNN.

Stone told CNN, “I have no reason to believe the President’s tweet has anything to do with me. Beyond that I have no comment.”

O’Brien, one of two Trump biographers quoted in the Times’ piece, said, “I know he wasn’t referring to me,” adding he was not sure who the subject of Trump’s tweet is.

On Twitter, O’Brien argued Trump’s posts are an indirect plea to Cohen to stay loyal.

“Translation: ‘Please, Michael Cohen, please, please, please, please don’t flip,’ O’Brien tweeted.

D’Antonio, the other biographer the Times quoted and a CNN contributor, did not return CNN’s request for comment.

The New York Times defended its reporting team in a Saturday morning tweet, directly noting Haberman’s role as part of a team that, just this week, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in National Reporting for its coverage of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Trump’s tweet comes a week after the FBI raided Cohen’s office, home and hotel room, resulting in the seizure of privileged communications between Cohen and his clients, said Stephen Ryan, a lawyer for Cohen, in a statement.

The documents also included information related to Stephanie Clifford, better known as porn actress Stormy Daniels, a source familiar with the matter told CNN. Daniels alleges she had an affair with Trump in 2006, which the White House has denied.

Trump immediately slammed the raid as a “disgraceful situation” and “an attack on our country.”

Several days after the raid, the Justice Department announced that Cohen has been “under criminal investigation” for months in New York because of his business dealings.

The raid has led to speculation, outlined in the Times’ report, that Cohen could “flip” and cooperate with Mueller in his investigation into Russian elections meddling and any possible links with Trump associates.

“Mr. Trump’s lawyers and advisers have become resigned to the strong possibility that Mr. Cohen, who has a wife and two children and faces the prospect of devastating legal fees, if not criminal charges, could end up cooperating with federal officials who are investigating him for activity that could relate, at least in part, to work he did for Mr. Trump,” the Times reports.

Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion between his campaign and Russia.

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