With French President Emmanuel Macron seated beside him in the Oval Office, President Trump seemed at ease Tuesday as he parried questions from reporters, many focusing on the Iran nuclear deal, over which Trump and Macron are at odds.
Then the mood changed dramatically.
Jonathan Karl of ABC News asked the U.S. president whether he would consider a pardon for Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime lawyer who is now under federal investigation for possible bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations.
Trump snapped and offered a two-word response: “Stupid question.”
The president then encouraged other questions from reporters and proceeded to provide relatively long answers.
The prospect of Trump pardoning Cohen has been a source of growing speculation since a Trump tweet over the weekend. In it, Trump asserted that it is unlikely that Cohen would “flip” and become a cooperating witness to federal investigators against Trump.
“Most people will flip if the Government lets them out of trouble,” Trump wrote, adding: “Sorry, I don’t see Michael doing that.”
Some analysts interpreted Trump’s tweet as a signal to Cohen that he would have his back if he is convicted of federal crimes for which Trump could provide a pardon.
Trump has repeatedly insisted that he has nothing to fear from the special counsel’s investigation of possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign in the 2016 election — which Trump calls a “witch hunt.”
Earlier this month, FBI agents raided Cohen’s Manhattan office, home and hotel room, seizing records about Cohen’s clients and personal finances — including documents related to money Cohen paid porn star Stormy Daniels to remain silent about an alleged decade-old affair with Trump. Trump has gone to court to try to deny investigators access to his communications with Cohen.