Some members of Donald Trump’s inner circle are starting to point their finger at the former president.
Court filings and hearings have presented some of his aides, allies and co-defendants as hapless pawns within a larger scheme directed by an apparent kingpin — Trump himself — and his former lawyer Michael Cohen said those individuals would likely find themselves on the same path as their prosecutions move forward, reported Politico.
“History has shown the 18 co-defendants that Donald doesn’t care about anyone but himself,” Cohen said. “I suspect it will be every defendant for himself.”
Cohen broke with Trump years ago and pleaded guilty to tax and campaign finance crimes related to his work for the former president, and recent court filings suggest that everyone from former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to Mar-a-Lago employee Yuscil Taveras may be considering whether to cooperate with prosecutors.
“Strategically speaking, if you are one of the lesser important players, you would definitely want to be in the same trial with Donald Trump. All of the focus is going to be on him,” said Florida-based attorney Scott Weinberg, who represented one of the Oath Keepers in a Jan. 6 case. “They don’t want the little guys, they want Trump. You’re always compared to who you’re next to.”
The Georgia election case includes numerous defendants with a much lesser role than the former president and his top aides, but even Meadows has signaled that he blames Trump for his own actions — such as his assertion that he sent an email pushing the fake electors scheme to avoid a dressing-down.
“What I didn’t want to happen was for the campaign to prevail in court action and not have this” lined up, Meadows testified last week in a court hearing. “Because I knew I’d be yelled at by the president of the United States.”
Trump still has possible protection against witnesses blaming him for their alleged crimes by making a sweeping claim of executive immunity against all the charges, and his attorney John Lauro has signaled that he intends to do so.
“Eventually, Trump is going to assert broad presidential immunity and everyone else is going to ride under his authority,” said criminal defense attorney William Shipley, who has been closely watching the Georgia cases.