President Trump distances himself from personal attorney Michael Cohen, says the lawyer handled only 'a tiny, tiny fraction' of his legal work

Key Points
  • President Trump says his longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, handled only a "tiny, tiny fraction" of his overall legal work.
  • Cohen "is really a businessman" who "also practices law," Trump says, apparently referring to Cohen's ownership of several taxicab medallions.
  • Cohen is under federal investigation related to several matters, including work he says he did for Trump.
President Donald Trump
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

President Donald Trump on Thursday sought to distance himself from his longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, telling Fox News hosts that Cohen handled only a "tiny, tiny fraction" of his "overall legal work."

Cohen, who has served as Trump's lawyer for more than a decade, is under federal investigation related to a 2016 payment he made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, among other matters. Cohen has said he did it on Trump's behalf but without Trump's knowledge.

"Michael is in business, he is really a businessman, a fairly big business, as I understand it," Trump said on "Fox and Friends." "I don't know his business, but [the investigation] doesn't have to do with me."

Cohen "also practices law," Trump said, but "I would say probably the big thing is his business, and they're looking into something having to do with his business."

Trump added that Cohen handles only "a tiny, tiny little fraction" of the president's "overall legal work" but "represents me on some things ... like with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal."

"I've been told I'm not involved" in the investigation, Trump said. "From what I understand, they're looking at his businesses."

Federal agents raided Cohen's home, office and hotel room earlier this month, where they seized documents relevant to the investigation. Cohen's lawyers immediately pressed to let Cohen, and potentially Trump himself review the seized documents and remove any covered by attorney-client privilege before the government is permitted to comb through them.

Trump's latest comments appeared to undermine the argument being made by Cohen lawyers, who say their client was Trump's personal attorney first and foremost, and therefore, practically everything Cohen did was protected by attorney-client privilege.

Following the Trump interview, CNBC spoke briefly to Cohen. At first, Cohen said he would need to call back. Moments later, he added, "I'm on the other line with my lawyers," before hanging up the phone.