DealBook Briefing: How AT&T and Novartis Became Part of the Michael Cohen Saga



Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

How Trump’s Iran move could affect the global economy

With President Trump making good on his threat to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, the business world has been grappling with what to do next. European companies like Total were considering whether to abandon investments — their governments promised unspecified protections — while Boeing and G.E. were also caught in the crossfire.

Meanwhile, oil continued to rise as the U.S. warned buyers to curb purchases from Iran within six months. (Saudi Arabia, Iran’s regional rival, said it would help stabilize markets.)

Peter Eavis’s take: While Mr. Trump’s foreign policies haven’t yet caused serious losses in the stock market, investors’ stoicism could face greater tests soon. Earnings growth for corporate America this year probably peaked in the first quarter. And since neither the E.U. nor China looks close to caving to Mr. Trump’s threats, global trade tensions look set to escalate.

The big question: How hard will the U.S. crack down on allies who don’t go along with sanctions — is this another trade fight?

Elsewhere in Iran news: Peter Thiel’s Palantir was helping monitor Iran. Some cybersecurity experts fear Iran will now hack more.


Vodafone’s chief executive, Vittorio Colao.

Sergio Perez/Reuters

Vodafone’s big deal reshapes European telecoms

In agreeing to buy Liberty Global’s cable networks in Germany and Eastern Europe for $22 billion, the British telecom giant is making the biggest move yet to consolidate the Continent’s internet industry. Vodafone won’t just be in wireless: It will offer high-speed internet and cable to 54 million customers.

Why this matters, according to analysts at JPMorgan Chase (via the FT):

We believe this event is a bellwether for the sector, and could potentially contribute toward a flurry of consolidation across Europe.

Not so fast: Expect Deutsche Telekom, now in Vodafone’s cross hairs, to fight the transaction.

Other telecom-adjacent news: Disney’s best quarterly results in two years were overshadowed by Comcast’s amassing a war chest to potentially challenge its Fox bid. James Murdoch won’t join Disney in any case. ESPN’s $750 million, five-year U.F.C. streaming deal shows that sports rights remain highly valuable. Sinclair Broadcasting may woo Sean Hannity and Jeanine Pirro. SoftBank’s latest earnings surpassed estimates because Sprint finally turned a quarterly profit.

The political flyaround

• Richard Cordray, the former head of the C.F.P.B., won the Democratic nomination for Ohio governor, while Don Blankenship, the former Massey Energy C.E.O., came in third in the Republican Senate primary in West Virginia. (NYT)

• The House voted to scrap an Obama-era rule meant to prevent discrimination by auto lenders. (NYT)

• Insurers in some markets plan huge price increases for Affordable Care Act plans, partly because of the repeal of the individual mandate. (Axios)

• The tax incentives that Racine, Wis., or Newark throw at Foxconn or Amazon are signs of desperation, Eduardo Porter writes. (NYT)

• Shareholder gun-control activists plan to speak at Sturm Ruger’s annual meeting today, but don’t expect much change. (NYT)


Eric Schneiderman

Frank Franklin Ii/Associated Press

Inside the race to replace Eric Schneiderman

New York lawmakers have been considering whether to replace the state’s attorney general, a leading critic of both President Trump and Harvey Weinstein, with a woman. Potential candidates include Letitia James, New York City’s public advocate, and Kathleen Rice, who challenged Mr. Schneiderman for the job. (Ben Lawsky, once New York’s top financial regulator, has also been mentioned.)

Whoever replaces Mr. Schneiderman must decide whether to continue his moves against Mr. Trump.

And Gov. Andrew Cuomo has appointed a special prosecutor — not the Manhattan district attorney, Cy Vance Jr. — to investigate Mr. Schneiderman.

Elsewhere in workplace misconduct: Five more Nike executives have left amid a furor over harassment and discrimination. A judge approved the sale of Weinstein Company assets to Lantern Capital. And Martin Sorrell, who left WPP after unspecified allegations, plans a new venture.


Yuriko Nakao/Reuters

The deals flyaround

• Toshiba is reportedly worried that Chinese regulators won’t approve its $18 billion deal to sell its memory business to a group led by Bain Capital. (WSJ)

• Glassdoor, the recruiting site, agreed to sell itself to Japan’s Recruit for $1.2 billion. (Bloomberg)

• Keystone Foods, the main U.S. supplier of Chicken McNuggets, has reportedly drawn interest from Cargill, Tyson Foods and Fosun International. (Bloomberg)

• The billionaire Albert Frère sold his 6.6 percent stake in Burberry, sending shares in the fashion house down nearly 7 percent. (Bloomberg)

• Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and Ashkenazy Acquisition agreed to buy full control of the Plaza Hotel in New York for a reported $600 million. (WSJ)

• TPG Capital is reportedly in talks to invest in Anastasia Beverly Hills, a makeup company, at a $3 billion valuation. (CNBC)


Chris Cox

Peter Earl McCollough for The New York Times

What does Facebook’s reorganization signal?

The company’s biggest mainstream products outside its main app — Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp — will now fall under Facebook’s chief product officer, Chris Cox. A group of emerging technologies, including a new blockchain-focused team, will be overseen by Mike Schroepfer, the chief tech officer. And ads, personnel, security and growth will be run by Javier Olivan, who has led growth efforts.

Though the move had been under consideration for a while, the Cambridge Analytica scandal sped up those efforts, according to the NYT. And it may streamline reporting lines and help keep Facebook nimble. But while it gives Mr. Cox in particular more prominence, it doesn’t fundamentally change things.

Elsewhere in Facebook news: The company will block political ads from groups outside Ireland ahead of that country’s referendum on abortion. And Jeffrey Zients, an Obama administration official, will replace the WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum as a director.

Elsewhere in tech: Here’s a prototype Uber flying taxi. The surge in A.I. and cryptocurrencies has created a shortage of graphics chips. Japan’s industrial future might be stuff that makes stuff. The union-affiliated CtW Investment Group plans to campaign against several Tesla directors. What else tech giants can do to improve racial diversity.


Sally Yates

Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images

Revolving door

Sally Yates, the former acting attorney general, has returned to King & Spalding as a partner specializing in investigations. (King & Spalding)

• Jefferies has hired Peter Scheman from Goldman Sachs as a co-head of Americas industrial banking. (Reuters)

The speed read

• MoviePass, which goes through about $21.7 million a month, has $15.5 million left in cash. (Bloomberg)

• Deutsche Bank is reportedly considering cutting about a fifth of its U.S. staff. (Bloomberg)

• Picasso’s “Fillette à la Corbeille Fleurie,” once owned by David and Peggy Rockefeller, sold for $115 million at auction. And a New York judge rejected a lawsuit against the sale of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s “Flesh and Spirit.”

• The House of Lords amended Brexit legislation to demand that Britain stay in the European Economic Area. (BBC)

• Argentina has begun negotiating for credit from the I.M.F., still widely blamed there for a 2001 debt crisis. (NYT)

• Denver Post journalists came to Manhattan to protest the paper’s owner, the hedge fund Alden Global Capital. (NYT)

• Nordstrom Rack’s president flew to St. Louis to apologize to three black teens it had falsely accused of attempted theft. (NYT)

• Audi, Volkswagen’s luxury brand, found emissions-manipulating software in about 60,000 of its best-selling diesel vehicles. (WSJ)

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On Fox News of All Places, Damaging Moments for Trump

It was harder to locate the strategy behind Mr. Trump’s swerving, stream-of-consciousness telephone interview last week on “Fox & Friends.” On live TV, the president seemed to stumble into acknowledging, for the first time, that he knew about his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, funneling $130,000 in hush money to an adult film actress who had claimed to have had an affair with the future president.

“He represents me, like with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal,” Mr. Trump said, as the show’s hosts listened politely.

The president went on to say that Mr. Cohen does “a tiny, tiny little fraction” of his legal work — prompting prosecutors to file a fresh brief saying that the comment had undermined the president’s legal argument that documents seized from Mr. Cohen in a raid by prosecutors, were protected by attorney-client privilege.

On Thursday, “Fox & Friends” played host to another awkward and possibly significant exchange. Mr. Giuliani, back on the network less than 12 hours after his appearance on “Hannity” aired, mused that Mr. Cohen’s efforts to quiet Ms. Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, had helped Mr. Trump’s presidential bid.

“Imagine if that came out on Oct. 15, 2016, in the middle of the, you know, last debate with Hillary Clinton,” Mr. Giuliani said.

Rudy Giuliani speaks out on Stormy Daniels payment Video by Fox News

Fair point — but problematic for Mr. Trump, whose legal team would be better off avoiding any suggestion that he had violated federal campaign finance laws that require the disclosure of spending meant to influence the electorate.


The Loyalists and Washington Insiders Fighting Trump’s Legal Battles

Lawyers from inside and outside the White House are confronting the Mueller inquiry, while others are focused on payments made to silence a pornographic film actress who said she had sex with Mr. Trump.

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Michael Avenatti, the voluble lawyer representing Ms. Clifford, responded on Twitter by thanking “Fox & Friends” for “helping our case week in and week out.”

“You are truly THE BEST,” Mr. Avenatti wrote. “Where can we send the gift basket?”

Perhaps Mr. Trump and his defenders feel more relaxed when chatting with Fox News’s stable of pundits, whose questions tend to be gentle. Those who know Mr. Trump well said that the president’s meandering call to “Fox & Friends” resembled the way he talks in private.

Also, Mr. Trump and some of his closest allies choose to appear only on Fox News — meaning that any gaffes are bound to appear there, rather than on rival networks.

Still, other moments have scrambled the usual Fox News formula.

When the correspondent Ed Henry sat down in April with Scott Pruitt, the embattled head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Mr. Pruitt was hoping for the interview to clear up a cloud of ethics problems hanging over his tenure. Instead, Mr. Henry pelted him with questions that Mr. Pruitt visibly struggled to answer.

Mr. Henry, though, belongs to the reporting side of Fox News, rather than its conservative commentariat. And the network’s pundits have been less aggressive in their questioning when interviews go south.

On Wednesday night, Mr. Hannity did not press Mr. Giuliani for details about the president’s reimbursing of Mr. Cohen, and the host even offered the former mayor a mulligan.

“But do you know the president didn’t know about this?” Mr. Hannity asked, seeming to prompt Mr. Giuliani to correct his earlier statement.

“He didn’t know about the specifics of it as far as I know,” Mr. Giuliani said. “But he did know about the general arrangement that Michael would take care of things like this.”

Later, Laura Ingraham, who follows Mr. Hannity at 10 p.m., seemed taken aback at what had transpired in the previous hour.

“God, if you go on ‘Hannity’ you better think it through, as the attorney for the president,” she said, her eyes wide in disbelief.

“I love Rudy,” she added, “but they better have an explanation for that. That’s a problem.”

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Giuliani May Have Exposed Trump to New Legal and Political Perils

By the end of the day, the president and his advisers had done little to clarify the confusion that Mr. Giuliani had set in motion a night earlier.

Mr. Giuliani did not consult every member of the president’s legal team, or the network of lawyers around Washington whose clients have been entangled in Mr. Trump’s legal disputes, according to several people close to the team. Emmet T. Flood, a lawyer hired by Mr. Trump on Wednesday, was not involved in Mr. Giuliani’s plans to reveal the payments to Mr. Cohen during an interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News, one of the people said.

The abrupt disclosure — which even caught Mr. Hannity, a confidant of the president’s, by surprise — set off a flurry of calls between Mr. Trump’s lawyers as they sought to determine whether Mr. Giuliani meant to reveal the president’s reimbursement. Witnesses and lawyers around Washington scoured transcripts, watched television clips and called each other in an effort to grasp the consequences of what Mr. Giuliani had said.

The president’s other lawyers ultimately determined that Mr. Giuliani had consulted with Mr. Trump, people close to them said, but were left speechless about why he decided to make the disclosure in such a high-profile way and without any strategy to handle the fallout.

Mr. Giuliani recognized the situation was problematic, two people close to him said, because Mr. Trump had previously said on Air Force One that he was unaware of the hush payments to Stephanie Clifford, the actress who performs as Stormy Daniels. However, Mr. Trump and his aides see lying to or misleading the news media as far less troublesome than lying to investigators, they said.


Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, recently joined Mr. Trump’s legal team.

Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

Even some of the president’s advisers said they were skeptical of Mr. Giuliani’s statements that Mr. Cohen entered into a settlement, made payments to a pornographic film actress and was reimbursed by the president all without Mr. Trump’s knowing why.

Mr. Giuliani’s disclosure is a sign of how Mr. Trump’s reshuffled legal team — which now includes a highly paid Washington lawyer, a famous former mayor, a constitutional lawyer who specializes in religious cases and former federal prosecutors — will function in the coming weeks as they sort out who takes the lead on representing the president.

Mr. Giuliani has said he is the lead lawyer dealing with the special counsel’s investigation in Washington. But his statements on Wednesday night related to the continuing investigation in New York that is examining the conduct of Mr. Cohen. People close to the president are concerned that Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani may create more problems for themselves if they consult only with each other and leave out the other lawyers who may know more about the nuances of the cases.

Mr. Trump faces a two-front battle with the Justice Department: one investigation in New York into Mr. Cohen and the special counsel investigation in Washington.

Whoever runs the president’s legal defenses will almost certainly adopt a more aggressive strategy than the previous team, which was led by the Washington lawyers John Dowd and Ty Cobb.

Despite the president’s desire to take on the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and the Justice Department, Mr. Dowd and Mr. Cobb persuaded Mr. Trump to buy into their strategy of cooperation. The more helpful the president was, Mr. Dowd and Mr. Cobb told him last year, the more likely the investigation would conclude by year’s end.


Michael D. Cohen, the president’s personal lawyer, paid $130,000 in hush money to Ms. Clifford, who says she had an affair with Mr. Trump.

Jeenah Moon for The New York Times

Instead, the investigation has intensified, and the president has concluded that approach was a mistake, according to people close to him. Convinced that the investigation is a growing threat to his presidency, he has resorted to his initial inclination to fight.

Mr. Trump appears to hope that Mr. Giuliani, a like-minded political street fighter from New York, will aid his combative approach. Mr. Giuliani’s comments on Wednesday and Thursday were an attempt to do just that.

His aggression carried risks. Besides revealing that the president had reimbursed Mr. Cohen, Mr. Giuliani appeared to admit that the payment to Ms. Clifford just before Election Day in 2016 was made because of concerns about the coming vote. That could be used to argue that it was an illegal campaign contribution.

“Imagine if that came out on October 15, 2016, in the middle of the, you know, last debate with Hillary Clinton,” Mr. Giuliani said on the Fox News program “Fox & Friends.” “Cohen didn’t even ask. Cohen made it go away. He did his job.”

Violating campaign finance laws can be serious. John Edwards, a former Democratic senator and presidential hopeful, was charged with corruption for his role in trying to hide details of his affair with a videographer during his 2008 bid for the White House. Mr. Edwards’s trial ended in an acquittal on one count with the jury unable to reach a verdict on five others.

Mr. Giuliani’s comments also raised fresh questions about the president’s relationship with Mr. Cohen. As Mr. Giuliani told it, Mr. Cohen entered into a legal agreement with Ms. Clifford and paid her without Mr. Trump’s knowledge. Mr. Giuliani described that as commonplace, saying he performed similar services for his own clients. But legal ethics experts said such an arrangement was highly unusual and would only expose Mr. Cohen to new questions.

The Trump Team’s Conflicting Statements About the Payment to Stormy Daniels

From complete denial to acknowledging involvement, what President Trump and his lawyers said about the $130,000 paid to the pornographic film actress.

Lawyers are required to keep their clients fully informed of their activities and are generally prohibited from advancing money to or on behalf of their clients, said Deborah L. Rhode, a scholar on legal ethics at Stanford Law School. “This is a guy who says he’ll take a bullet for the president,” she said. “And what they’re giving him is the legal ethics equivalent of a bullet.”

“Giuliani thinks he’s serving President Trump’s interest,” she said. “President Trump’s interest is not the same as Michael Cohen’s interest.”

In his tweets on Thursday, Mr. Trump contradicted his earlier statements that he knew of no payment to Ms. Clifford. Mr. Trump said he paid a monthly retainer to Mr. Cohen and suggested that the payment to the actress could not be considered a campaign contribution.

Government watchdog groups warned that willfully violating the financial disclosure laws can be punished by a fine of up to $50,000 and a year in prison. Although federal officials who lie on the forms are also typically charged with other, more serious offenses such as bribery or fraud, more than 20 officials or former officials have been charged in the past 12 years with making false statements to federal officials, a felony offense. An Environmental Protection Agency official who failed to report a source of income on the form, for instance, was convicted and sentenced to probation.

“Mr. Giuliani did his client no favors,” said Norman L. Eisen, the chairman of the good-government group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

Mr. Cohen had worked for Mr. Trump for a decade and has said he would “take a bullet” for him. Mr. Trump, however, treated Mr. Cohen poorly over the years, people familiar with their relationship have said.

Ms. Clifford is suing Mr. Cohen to try to be released from the nondisclosure agreement. And Mr. Cohen is under federal investigation into possible bank fraud, raising concerns in the president’s inner circle that Mr. Trump’s longtime personal lawyer will cooperate with the government. Federal agents raided Mr. Cohen’s office and home last month and seized documents that included information about payments to Ms. Clifford.

Mr. Cohen recently invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in Ms. Clifford’s lawsuit.

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A Cheat Sheet to the Trump Circus

There’s also the hacking, on which Mr. Mueller has so far been silent. But the main legal theory on which he indicted the Russians — the conspiracy to defraud the United States — could theoretically expand to net both Russians and Americans involved in the hack-and-leak operation.


Paul Manafort.

Andrew Harnik/Associated Press

Campaign and administration contacts with Russians

People close to the president had an unusual habit of meeting with Russian officials or individuals linked to the Russian government. The foreign policy adviser Carter Page — who, we now know, was later monitored by the F.B.I. as a possible Russian agent — might have been nothing more than a hanger-on, but there’s also Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr., Michael Flynn, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos, all of whom became entangled with Moscow-linked contacts. Mr. Papadopoulos is cooperating with the Mueller team and has acknowledged learning of Russia’s possession of “thousands of emails” about Hillary Clinton. Meanwhile, there’s the notorious Trump Tower meeting in which Mr. Trump Jr. apparently expected to receive incriminating information on Mrs. Clinton.

That’s a lot of smoke, and we know the special counsel is looking into it: According to The Times, the subjects about which Mr. Mueller wants to interview the president include many questions about collusion. What we don’t know is whether Mr. Mueller has found any fire or whether any smoke reaches the Oval Office.


James B. Comey.

Doug Mills/The New York Times

Obstruction of justice

This is the thread of the Mueller investigation that, so far, most directly implicates the president. Mr. Trump has reportedly tried to undermine the Russia investigation from the very beginning by trying to push James Comey, the F.B.I. director, to drop the bureau’s probe into Mr. Flynn (which Trump denies) before firing Mr. Comey. He then apparently considered (two times that we know of) firing the special counsel as well — and that’s only the start of it. Mr. Mueller is reportedly preparing a write-up on Mr. Trump’s possible attempts at obstruction and considers the president to be a “subject” rather than a “target” (the latter is a person the F.B.I. is planning to indict) but that doesn’t mean Mr. Trump should rest easy.

Obstruction requires the government to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant acted intentionally to impede a proceeding. That’s why it’s notable that so many of Mr. Mueller’s potential questions for Mr. Trump seem to aim at determining the president’s state of mind in dismissing Mr. Comey and pressuring Mr. Sessions not to recuse himself from the investigation. Keep in mind that Congress listed obstruction of justice among the articles of impeachment for both Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.


Michael Cohen.

Yana Paskova/Getty Images

The Cohen investigation

We know that Mr. Mueller is investigating various threads of possible financial wrongdoing by those around the president. Mr. Manafort and Mr. Gates have been indicted on charges including money laundering, tax evasion and bank fraud, and reports indicate that the special counsel may also be looking into Mr. Kushner’s business dealings during the presidential transition not only with Russians but also with Qatar, Turkey, China and the United Arab Emirates.

White-collar crime also appears to be central to the investigation into Mr. Cohen, whose office and residences were raided by law enforcement in April. The probe is apparently important enough to the president that Mr. Trump sent his own lawyer to argue alongside Mr. Cohen’s in a preliminary court battle.

Theoretically, Mr. Cohen’s involvement with the Trump family’s work in real estate means that prosecutors digging into his finances might unearth information on the president’s businesses as well. There’s also the matter of Mr. Cohen’s payments to Ms. Clifford in exchange for her silence on an alleged affair with Mr. Trump, and his reported involvement in trying to quash other negative stories, possibly including the “Access Hollywood” tape.

But the real danger of the Cohen investigation, so far as the president is concerned, may simply be that the investigations into Mr. Trump’s inner circle have grown beyond the scope of Mr. Mueller’s probe alone. The special counsel reportedly referred the Cohen case to federal prosecutors in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. And that means that even if Mr. Trump fires the special counsel, his legal problems will not go away.


Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels.

Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Civil lawsuits

The government investigations and prosecutions aren’t the only action. The president is personally being sued by Ms. Clifford — she is suing Mr. Trump for defamation and seeking release from her nondisclosure agreement on her alleged relationship with him — and by Summer Zervos, a former “Apprentice” contestant who argues that Mr. Trump defamed her when he called her story of being sexually harassed by him a lie. (The other legal proceedings described here are federal, but Ms. Zervos’s case is before the New York Supreme Court.) Then there are two lawsuits over the hacking and leaking of Democratic National Committee emails: One was brought by the committee itself and the other by donors and a former staffer who claim that their privacy was invaded.

Mr. Trump isn’t a defendant in the latter two cases — but they still implicate his business ties and his conduct on the campaign trail. The real risk to the president will most likely come if these lawsuits can make it to the phase in which the plaintiffs can start requesting information and testimony from Mr. Trump and those around him. Remember that the “discovery phase” in the Paula Jones case was ultimately what set in motion President Bill Clinton’s impeachment proceedings.


The jokes of 2018 are all about nihilism: “Nothing matters!” we cheerfully, or not so cheerfully, declare. This is at its truest and most despairing when it comes to the legal chaos around the president. Perhaps none of this means anything, as Mr. Trump and many of his supporters believe. Or perhaps all of it will one day turn out to have meant everything — to the president, to the presidency, to the country.

Meanwhile, the president rages. And Mr. Mueller is nearing the one-year mark of his appointment as special counsel.


Donald J. Trump

Damon Winter/The New York Times

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Stormy Daniels Lawsuit Delayed as Judge Cites ‘Likely’ Indictment of Michael Cohen


Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, said this week that he would invoke his Fifth Amendment rights if called as a witness in a lawsuit brought against the president.

Justin Lane/EPA, via Shutterstock

A federal judge in California on Friday ordered a three-month delay in the lawsuit brought by the pornographic film star Stephanie Clifford against President Trump, citing what he called the likelihood that Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, will be indicted.

In granting a defense request for the postponement, the judge, S. James Otero of United States District Court in Los Angeles, sided with the president’s legal team that the unusual circumstances of the case warranted the stay of action. Judge Otero acknowledged in his order that complications might arise from an overlap with a criminal investigation into Mr. Cohen.

“This is no simple criminal investigation,” Judge Otero wrote. “It is an investigation into the personal attorney of a sitting president regarding documents that might be subject to the attorney-client privilege. Whether or not an indictment is forthcoming, and the court thinks it likely based on these facts alone, these unique circumstances counsel in favor of stay.”

On Wednesday, Mr. Cohen, whose New York office, apartment and hotel room were raided this month by the F.B.I., invoked his Fifth Amendment rights in Ms. Clifford’s lawsuit, citing the “ongoing criminal investigation” in New York.

Ms. Clifford, who is better known as Stormy Daniels, was paid $130,000 by Mr. Cohen to keep quiet about claims that she had an affair with Mr. Trump after meeting him in 2006. She sued last month to get out of the nondisclosure agreement she signed in October 2016, claiming it is void because Mr. Trump had never signed it.


Stephanie Clifford and her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, in New York last week. “We want to get the truth to the American people as quickly as possible,” Mr. Avenatti said on Friday.

Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

With the delay, Judge Otero sought to avoid some of the hurdles presented by the overlap between the claims made by Ms. Clifford and the F.B.I. investigation.

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News Analysis: For Many, Life in Trump’s Orbit Ends in a Crash Landing

Mr. Trump expressed outrage on Thursday about the toll exacted on some people close to him. Dr. Jackson, the White House physician and rear admiral who withdrew as nominee for secretary of Veterans Affairs after accusations of drinking on official trips and badgering his staff, is “an incredible man” whom Democrats were “trying to destroy,” Mr. Trump said on “Fox & Friends.”

The president attributed it to the toxic atmosphere of the capital, saying he warned Dr. Jackson. “I did say welcome to Washington,” he said. “Welcome to the swamp. Welcome to the world of politics.”

Mr. Trump likewise said that Mr. Cohen, his longtime lawyer who paid $130,000 to Stephanie Clifford, the pornographic film actress known as Stormy Daniels, before the 2016 election and now faces a federal investigation, is “a great guy” who “did absolutely nothing wrong” in that matter.

But as he has with other advisers who have gotten in trouble, the president also distanced himself, suggesting that Mr. Cohen was in trouble for business dealings separate from any legal representation he had done for Mr. Trump. “I’m not involved, and I’ve been told I’m not involved,” he said.

Over many decades, people who have entered Mr. Trump’s circle have discovered that they are bit actors in a movie he sees himself starring in.

“People are not people to him, they are instruments of his ego. And when they serve his ego, they survive, and when they don’t, they pass into the night,” said Tony Schwartz, the ghostwriter on “The Art of the Deal,” Mr. Trump’s first book. “Ultimately, the fate of anyone who casts their lot with Trump is — you are passing through. And I just can’t think of anybody for whom it is not true.”

Jack O’Donnell, the former president of Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, and a vocal critic of his former boss, said many people have cycled through his world remarkably quickly without leaving much of an impression on Mr. Trump.

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Hired and Fired: the Unprecedented Turnover of the Trump Administration

Since President Trump’s inauguration, staffers of the White House and federal agencies have left in firings and resignations, one after the other.

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“This is an individual who completely lacks compassion and empathy, and therefore the recycling of people, people crashing and burning, it means nothing to him,” Mr. O’Donnell said. “He might put on a public frown for a day because he’s upset that, in his mind, the admiral got railroaded out. But Trump couldn’t care less about the admiral.”

The president tapped Dr. Jackson because he had come to like him and was impressed by him even though he had little management experience to run the government’s second-largest department. Shortly after his selection, several senior White House officials warned Dr. Jackson that it was a bad idea and that it was likely to end poorly.

But Mr. Trump is a transactional person, and many have made transactional decisions to work for him understanding the risks. For some, it is a sense of public service and duty to country. For others, it is a calculation that the return on investment will be worth it. Indeed, Mr. Cohen has attracted enormous attention over the years as he built business ties because of his affiliation with Mr. Trump.

Some who have come and gone managed to benefit from the experience in their own way despite the ordeal. Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary who was mocked on “Saturday Night Live” and maligned by the president and the news media, nonetheless has received lucrative speaking contracts and has a book coming out in July. Mr. Tillerson and Gary D. Cohn, the former national economics adviser, lost power struggles, but both still have hundreds of millions of dollars to console themselves, and friends say no one should feel sorry for them.

Still, former advisers like Michael T. Flynn, Paul Manafort and Rick Gates have all been charged with or pleaded guilty to crimes and are looking at prison time.

Others worry they may face the same fate. Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency whose spending and security practices were spotlighted Thursday at a contentious House hearing, may yet lose his job.

Other presidents have seen associates get caught up in investigations or scandals that were highlighted or magnified because of their closeness. Plenty of advisers, aides and friends of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton met untimely ends to their political careers or even went to prison, and critics of both presidents often said they did not seem to care about the consequences to those around them.

The closer someone gets to a president, the harsher the spotlight can be. Many who seek the power and stature of the White House somehow convince themselves that their own foibles or misdeeds will not be exposed, only to learn otherwise, or become intoxicated by their new positions of influence and exercise poor judgment. And Washington can be especially unforgiving. “Here, ruining people is considered sport,” Vincent W. Foster Jr., a longtime Clinton friend and aide, wrote before killing himself in 1993.

Several people who have been close to Mr. Trump over the years say that he is exceptionally good at rationalizing his own behavior to himself, and compartmentalizing the types of personal catastrophes that would leave other people emotionally ravaged.

“I think that loyalty has always been a one-way street with Trump, and he doesn’t really care about the wreckages he engenders as long as he comes out where he wants to be,” said Tim O’Brien, a biographer who was sued by Mr. Trump over a book reporting that Mr. Trump had inflated his net worth.

“Ronny Jackson’s reputation would never have been in play had the president not put him up for this job,” Mr. O’Brien said, adding that in Mr. Trump’s mind, the issue is, “Ronny was great, but Washington is a snake pit.”

Michael D’Antonio, another Trump biographer, said, “Anyone who engages with the president and, before that, with him as a business person, had to practice self-defense even if they were his allies.”

“All that matters to him,” he added, “is what you say and do in the moment in front of him.”

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Michael Cohen to Take Fifth Amendment in Stormy Daniels Lawsuit


Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s personal lawyer and confidant, said a federal investigation in New York will keep him from testifying in a separate lawsuit brought against the president.

Jeenah Moon for The New York Times

Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, will invoke his Fifth Amendment right in a lawsuit filed against the president by Stephanie Clifford, the pornographic film star better known as Stormy Daniels.

Mr. Cohen’s decision, disclosed Wednesday in a court filing in California, where the suit was filed, came a day before a federal judge in Manhattan was set to hold a hearing regarding materials seized from Mr. Cohen during an F.B.I. raid earlier this month.

Mr. Cohen cited the Manhattan investigation in his filing on Wednesday, saying that, if called as a witness in Ms. Clifford’s lawsuit, “I will assert my 5th Amendment rights in connection with all proceedings in this case due to the ongoing criminal investigation by the F.B.I. and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.”

Ms. Clifford was paid $130,000 to keep quiet about claims that she had an affair with Mr. Trump. She sued last month to get out of the nondisclosure agreement she signed in October 2016, alleging that it was void because Mr. Trump had never signed it.

Citing the Fifth Amendment in the Clifford case allows Mr. Cohen to avoid being deposed and revealing sensitive information in the more important criminal investigation. That investigation — which prosecutors say has been going on for months — became public in dramatic fashion on April 9, when agents from the New York office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation raided Mr. Cohen’s office, apartment and a room at the Loews Regency Hotel he had been using. The inquiry is said to be focusing on hush-money payments that Mr. Cohen made to — or helped arrange for — Ms. Clifford and Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model who has also said she had an affair with Mr. Trump.

For days now, prosecutors from the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan have been sparring with Mr. Cohen’s lawyers — and with lawyers for Mr. Trump — for the right to review the records first, a step that will shape the contours of how the government presses its investigation into whether Mr. Cohen tried to suppress negative news coverage of the president in the run-up to the 2016 election.

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Trump Mocks Sketch of Man Who Allegedly Threatened Stormy Daniels


Stephanie Clifford, known as Stormy Daniels, outside the federal court in New York on Monday.

Jeenah Moon for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Trump tweeted on Wednesday about a sketch of a man who a pornographic actress claims threatened her years ago on behalf of Mr. Trump. It was just the second time the president weighed in on the subject after weeks of frenzied news media coverage.

The president mocked the sketch, which the pornographic actress, Stephanie Clifford (known as Stormy Daniels) released on Tuesday. His tweet accompanied a post from another Twitter user, who said the man looked like Ms. Clifford’s former husband.

Ms. Clifford says the man in the sketch threatened her in a Las Vegas parking lot in 2011 while she was with her infant daughter.


A drawing released by Michael Avenatti, Ms. Clifford’s lawyer, purporting to show the man who threatened her in a Las Vegas parking lot in 2011.

Michael Avenatti, via Associated Press

“A guy walked up on me and said to me, ‘Leave Trump alone. Forget the story.’ And he leaned around and looked at my daughter and said, ‘That’s a beautiful little girl, it would be a shame if something happened to her mom,’” Ms. Clifford said in March during an interview aired on “60 Minutes.”

Ms. Clifford has said that Mr. Trump’s longtime lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen, paid her $130,000 to keep quiet about an affair she says she had with Mr. Trump while he was married. The F.B.I. has been investigating Mr. Cohen for bank fraud related to this payment and other matters.

Ms. Clifford filed a lawsuit in California last month in which she claims a nondisclosure agreement she signed shortly before the 2016 presidential election was null and void because Mr. Trump never signed it.

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Trump Mocks Sketch of Man Who Allegedly Threatened Stormy Daniels


Stephanie Clifford, known as Stormy Daniels, outside the federal court in New York on Monday.

Jeenah Moon for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Trump tweeted on Wednesday about a sketch of a man who a pornographic actress claims threatened her years ago on behalf of Mr. Trump. It was just the second time the president weighed in on the subject after weeks of frenzied news media coverage.

The president mocked the sketch, which the pornographic actress, Stephanie Clifford (known as Stormy Daniels) released on Tuesday. His tweet accompanied a post from another Twitter user, who said the man looked like Ms. Clifford’s former husband.

Ms. Clifford says the man in the sketch threatened her in a Las Vegas parking lot in 2011 while she was with her infant daughter.


A drawing released by Michael Avenatti, Ms. Clifford’s lawyer, purporting to show the man who threatened her in a Las Vegas parking lot in 2011.

Michael Avenatti, via Associated Press

“A guy walked up on me and said to me, ‘Leave Trump alone. Forget the story.’ And he leaned around and looked at my daughter and said, ‘That’s a beautiful little girl, it would be a shame if something happened to her mom,’” Ms. Clifford said in March during an interview aired on “60 Minutes.”

Ms. Clifford has said that Mr. Trump’s longtime lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen, paid her $130,000 to keep quiet about an affair she says she had with Mr. Trump while he was married. The F.B.I. has been investigating Mr. Cohen for bank fraud related to this payment and other matters.

Ms. Clifford filed a lawsuit in California last month in which she claims a nondisclosure agreement she signed shortly before the 2016 presidential election was null and void because Mr. Trump never signed it.

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What Sean Hannity Has Been Saying About Michael Cohen

“I really think that you should have disclosed your relationship with Cohen when you talked about him on this show,” Mr. Dershowitz said. “You could have said that you had asked him for advice or whatever.”

Fox News issued a statement on Tuesday saying Mr. Hannity had the network’s full support. Here’s a look at the many times Mr. Hannity discussed Mr. Cohen on the program since the April 9 raid.

‘Cohen was never part of the Trump administration’

Hours after the news broke, Mr. Hannity opened his show by mentioning it. He immediately connected the action by federal prosecutors in New York to Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into possible links between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

“Mueller’s witch-hunt investigation is now a runaway train that is clearly careening off the tracks,” he said.

The raid on Mr. Cohen’s office, court records show, was part of a monthslong investigation. It was overseen by the United States attorney for the Southern District. However Mr. Cohen’s lawyer, Stephen Ryan, said on April 9 that the search was carried out on a referral by Mr. Mueller’s office.

Without mentioning his own connection to Mr. Cohen, Mr. Hannity then told viewers that “Cohen was never part of the Trump administration or the Trump campaign.”

Mr. Hannity went on to compare Mr. Mueller’s investigation and the raid on Mr. Cohen to an F.B.I. investigation in 2015 and 2016 that focused on Hillary Clinton’s handling of her email.

“You think Hillary Clinton’s attorneys had their offices raided during this email investigation?” he asked.

He raised the issue again later that evening, referring to it as “the double standard aspect” in a conversation with the Fox News reporter Sara Carter.

‘Russia collusion has now become Stormy Daniels payment by his own lawyer’

In a monologue that night, Mr. Hannity repeated his view that the raid on Mr. Cohen amounted to overreach by the F.B.I. and Mr. Mueller in particular.

At several points, he alluded to the $130,000 payment Mr. Cohen has acknowledged making to Stephanie Clifford, a pornographic film star better known as Stormy Daniels, who has said she had an affair with Mr. Trump while he was married.

“The F.B.I. is more than capable of tracing a Russia collusion investigation somehow to a porn star and the door of Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen,” he said.

Later that night, Mr. Hannity discussed the raid with Mr. Dershowitz. He opened their conversation by referring to what he saw as the expanding scope of Mr. Mueller’s investigation.

“‘Russia collusion’ has now become ‘Stormy Daniels payment by his own lawyer,’” Mr. Hannity said.

At no time did he disclose that his own name might be in Mr. Cohen’s files as a client.

‘Mueller has now basically backdoored his way into every single Trump business deal’

The following evening, “Hannity” again opened with the host decrying “Robert Mueller’s never-ending partisan witch hunt.”

His focus widened somewhat to include the impact the raid might have on Mr. Trump.

Both in the early part of his show and in a subsequent conversation with Mr. Dershowitz, he mentioned Mr. Cohen’s role in the Trump Organization and his connection to Mr. Trump’s business operations.


Michael Cohen leaving a federal court in New York on Monday.

Jeenah Moon for The New York Times

“Mueller has now basically backdoored his way into every single Trump business deal, at least since Michael Cohen has worked with Donald Trump,” he said during his opening segment.

In his discussion with Mr. Dershowitz, Mr. Hannity then asked whether the F.B.I. had violated Mr. Cohen’s constitutional rights or Mr. Trump’s lawyer-client privilege.

“Doesn’t that backdoor Mueller, even though it’s the Southern District of New York, right into every business deal, right into every private agreement that the president has ever made?” Mr. Hannity asked.

He did not disclose any legal relationship with Mr. Cohen.

‘The destroy Trump media has become totally unhinged’

As Mr. Hannity continued to discuss Mr. Cohen, the media’s coverage of the raid, which he viewed as obsessive, was a frequent target.

On April 10, he spent several minutes discussing what he saw as a media conspiracy theory that Mr. Trump might order military action in Syria to distract from the raid.

“The destroy Trump media has become totally unhinged over the raid of President Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen,” he said, “with some of them going so far as to question if Donald Trump can take action in Syria as a distraction like the movie ‘Wag the Dog.’”

The movie, released in 1997 and directed by Barry Levinson, is about a Hollywood producer and a Washington consultant who decide to start a fictional war to distract voters from a presidential scandal.

Mr. Hannity then discussed the media’s reporting on Syria and Mr. Cohen with Dan Bongino, a former United States Secret Service agent, and the radio host Rick Ungar.

‘These tactics are not American’

Two days after the raid, on April 11, Mr. Hannity shifted his focus to Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who supervises Mr. Mueller’s investigation.

In his third conversation with Mr. Dershowitz, he referenced Mr. Dershowitz’s comments in the previous evenings that the raid violated Mr. Cohen’s constitutional rights.

He then asked if Mr. Dershowitz thought it was “the attorney general’s job to now step in and fire Rod Rosenstein?”

Later, he played a clip of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich comparing the F.B.I.’s raid on Mr. Cohen to the German Gestapo and communist Russia.

“These tactics are not American,” Mr. Hannity said. “That’s the point.”

‘A perfectly legitimate business move’

On April 12, Mr. Hannity spent most of his show discussing James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director who released a memoir describing his relationship with Mr. Trump this week.

But he diverged briefly to discuss a report that a former Federal Election Commission chairman, Bradley Smith, did not think Mr. Cohen should be charged over his payment to Ms. Clifford.

“Smith is arguing that Cohen’s payment is a perfectly legitimate business move,” Mr. Hannity said, “and that any attempt to connect it to an in-kind contribution is an extreme stretch. It doesn’t fit.”

Then Mr. Hannity turned back to other news.

‘It was such a minor relationship’

It was not until he had a week of programs under his belt, after his name emerged in court, that Mr. Hannity described his relationship with Mr. Cohen.

He did so in response to the objections of Mr. Dershowitz, who had spent a week discussing the case with him, apparently unaware of the connection.

Earlier in the broadcast, Mr. Hannity had acknowledged the attention the revelation by Mr. Cohen’s legal team was getting, calling the media coverage “absolutely insane.” He introduced a 46-second montage of cable news hosts and commentators saying his name repeatedly.

At the end of the show, in response to Mr. Dershowitz, Mr. Hannity repeated assertions he had made earlier in the day, saying: “Michael Cohen never represented me in any legal matter. I never retained his services. I never received an invoice. I never paid Michael Cohen for legal fees. I did have occasional brief conversations with Michael Cohen — he’s a great attorney — about legal questions I had or I was looking for input and perspective.”

The host described the relationship as “minimal” in response to Mr. Dershowitz’s initial objection.

“But, you know, it’s a complex situation when you are speaking to millions of people,” Mr. Dershowitz later commented.

“Professor,” Mr. Hannity interrupted, “it was such a minor relationship in terms of it had to do with real estate and nothing political.”

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