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PALM BEACH, Fla. -- President Donald Trump vowed Saturday that his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, will not "flip" and cooperate against him in the special counsel investigation into his campaign's connections to Russia, attacking a New York Times story as part of a "witch hunt" against him.

"Most people will flip if the Government lets them out of trouble," even if "it means lying or making up stories," Trump said, before adding: "Sorry, I don't see Michael doing that despite the horrible Witch Hunt and the dishonest media!"

Trump appeared to be angered by a front-page Times story Saturday that examined his relationship with Cohen. The story cited other former Trump campaign aides, including Sam Nunberg and Roger Stone, as saying Trump has long treated Cohen abusively by insulting him and threatening to fire him.

The story suggested Cohen could decide to cooperate in the investigation if he faces criminal charges.

The FBI raided Cohen's home, office and hotel room earlier this month looking for evidence of fraud as they conduct a criminal investigation. That included records related to payments Cohen made in 2016 to adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, both of whom allege having had sexual encounters with Trump, people familiar with the raid have said.

Prosecutors have said they're investigating Cohen's personal business dealings but haven't said what crime they believe he may have committed. Cohen's lawyers have called the raid an assault on attorney-client privilege and Trump has said it was "an attack on our country."

In other tweets, Trump lashed out against the Times over its coverage of the investigation. He slammed Maggie Haberman, the lead reporter on a new story, and called a former aide quoted in the story as a "drunk/drugged up loser."

In an initial version of his tweets, Trump misspelled Haberman's last name. Trump later deleted and reposted the tweets correcting the spelling of her name. The Times' communication department wrote on Twitter that the paper is "extremely proud" of Haberman and that it stands by the story.

Daniels' former lawyer, Keith Davidson, has also been drawn into the investigation.

Davidson was contacted by federal authorities in the wake of this month's raid on Cohen's Manhattan office and has shared records with investigators, a spokesman said.

"Mr. Davidson has been contacted by the federal authorities regarding the Michael Cohen probe in the Southern District of New York," the spokesman, Dave Wedge, said Friday. "Mr. Davidson was asked to provide certain limited electronic information. He has done so and will continue to cooperate to the fullest extent possible under the law."

Davidson has reached multiple agreements with Cohen -- one of them negotiated in late 2017, when the men brokered the silence of a Playboy model who had had an affair with a major Republican donor and Trump ally. Cohen also referred business to Davidson after their earlier dealings leading up to the 2016 presidential election.

Davidson has called Cohen a friend, and this month he defended his professional integrity to CNN, telling the network that Cohen had encouraged him to speak out.

Wedge called the men's relationship "purely professional" and said they had met in person only a handful of times. "He is one of hundreds, if not thousands, of lawyers Attorney Davidson has dealt with over his 18 years as a lawyer."

The investigators who have sought information from him are working separately from special counsel Robert Mueller, although the special counsel's office referred certain information to them.

Among the evidence that the authorities in New York have seized are recordings of conversations that Cohen secretly made. Davidson, who works out of two offices in Southern California, would need to have agreed to Cohen recording any phone calls they may have had, as California law requires that both people involved in a conversation consent.

"Attorney Davidson never consented to any recordings of his conversations with Mr. Cohen," Wedge said. "If they in fact do exist, Attorney Davidson will pursue all his legal rights under the law."

Information for this article was contributed by David Nakamura of The Washington Post; by Jill Colvin of The Associated Press; and by Rebecca R. Ruiz of The New York Times.

A Section on 04/22/2018

Print Headline: Cohen won't 'flip,' Trump asserts

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