Cutting a deal with prosecutors by offering information on a former boss or superior “almost ought to be illegal,” President Donald Trump said Wednesday, one day after his former attorney implicated him during a guilty plea in federal court.
“This whole thing about flipping, they call it, I know all about flipping. Thirty, 40 years, I have been watching flippers. Everything is 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,” Trump said in an interview that was taped Wednesday and aired Thursday morning. “It’s not fair.”
Offering to lessen charges or lighten sentences in exchange for information and testimony is a well-known tactic used by prosecutors pursuing significant crimes, especially in large organizations. Such tactics are often used in probes of organized crime, drug cartels and corporate investigations.
Special counsel Robert Mueller, charged with investigating allegations of collusion between the Russian government and the Trump campaign, has multiple cooperating witnesses involved in his probe.
The president’s interview with Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” came on the heels of a tumultuous 24 hours for his presidency. Within minutes on Tuesday, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was found guilty on eight counts of tax and bank fraud, and Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign-finance violations, telling the court that he broke those laws “in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office.”
Trump said Cohen’s campaign-finance violations, which are felonies, are “tiny” and “not a big deal, frankly.” He insisted that Cohen’s admission of guilt does not implicate him in any crimes and that Cohen had unfairly used him to get a better deal.
“He makes a better deal when he uses me. Like everybody else,” Trump said. “In all fairness to him, most people are going to do that. And I have seen it many times. I have had many friends involved in this stuff. It’s called flipping, and it almost ought to be illegal.”
A source close to Cohen told POLITICO earlier this week that the former Trump attorney had accepted a plea agreement “to save millions of dollars, protect his family, and limit his exposure.”