- Michael Cohen said Donald Trump saw the documents stored at Mar-a-Lago as a “get out of jail free card.”
- Speaking to Salon, Cohen suggested Trump could leverage holding classified intel about US national security.
- Cohen said that the former president could threaten to turn over information to foreign adversaries.
Michael Cohen said that former President Donald Trump saw the classified documents stashed at Mar-a-Lago as his “get out of jail free” card, he told Salon magazine in an interview.
“He’s only interested in one thing: the get out of jail free card,” Cohen said. “And that’s exactly what he saw in those documents.”
Cohen, once Trump’s personal attorney and fixer, suggested in the Salon interview that Trump thought he might be able to leverage the confidentiality of these documents to his own advantage.
Imagining what Trump might say, Cohen said: “‘You want to play with me? Really? I was the former president of the United States. I have documents that are so damaging to this country’s national security. Go ahead, indict me, try to throw me in prison. See what happens.’
“What happens is he turns over all this classified information, not as if he hasn’t already done it, but he turns all his classified information over to our adversaries, right? ‘You want to play that game? No problem!'”
In August, Cohen made a similar point during a CNN interview. He said that Trump would use the documents as a “bargaining chip” to get out of trouble.
“The second they would put him in handcuffs, he would turn around and say: ‘I have the documentation showing, for example, where our nuclear launch pads are,'” Cohen said.
He went on to claim that Trump would then release that information to “Russia, to Iran, to whoever it might be.”
The Washington Post reported that FBI agents were looking for secret documents about nuclear weapons during the Mar-a-Lago raid in August. The Post’s source did not say if this refers to the US arsenal or that of another country.
Cohen is not the only person to suggest that Trump might have held onto classified documents for his own benefit. Last month, Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine also described how he thinks Trump might use classified information as a “get out of jail free card.”
According to The New York Times, Trump has already floated the idea of using classified documents as a bargaining chip. Trump last year suggested to advisors that he would return boxes of materials from Mar-a-Lago to the National Archives and Records Administration in exchange for “sensitive” documents about the FBI investigation of his 2016 campaign’s ties to Russia, the paper said.
Aides to the former president did not go through with the proposal, per The Times.
Insider contacted Trump’s post-presidency office for comment but did not immediately receive a response.