Michael Cohen, former attorney for President Donald Trump, apparently disavowed his admissions for some of his alleged crimes, indicating that he only pleaded guilty to avoid dragging his wife through a prolonged legal battle.
The revelations came from a recorded March 25 phone call he had with actor and Cohen's close friend Tom Arnold, the audio of which The Wall Street Journal obtained and published Wednesday. Although Cohen reportedly stood by his plea on campaign finance violations, which implicated the president over his alleged affair with porn star Stormy Daniels, he appeared to reverse admissions related to tax evasion and a charge related to a home equity line of credit (HELOC).
“There is no tax evasion,” Cohen said. “And the HELOC? I have an 18 percent loan-to-value on my home. How could there be a HELOC issue?" Cohen portrayed himself as a victim — noting how he lost his insurance, business, and law license — and lamented the lack of support he received after coming forward to law enforcement.
"I shouldn't be alone anymore. I mean, after over a hundred hours of testimony, right, including seven-and-a-half hours of being beaten up on national television," he said.
He also described his dedication to his wife, Laura Shusterman, and his intent to help her avoid legal trouble. "I love this woman. I am not going to let her get dragged into the mud of this crap," he said before noting he wasn't expecting the three-year sentence he received.
Cohen's name made its way back into the news in April when Special Counsel Robert Mueller released his report on the Russia investigation. Mueller's report made 14 criminal referrals, which included Cohen, who admitted to paying Daniels hush money just before the 2016 presidential election.
While Trump has denied wrongdoing related to that payment and another to Karen McDougal, Cohen stood by his guilty plea. "They had me on campaign finance," he said in the call with Arnold.
During his call, Cohen appeared to describe the conflict he faced in turning on the president, whom he had served for a decade. "I needed to get the truth out there, and (it's) very hard when you spend 10 years taking care of somebody and their family," Cohen told Arnold.
"And look, I always knew, you know, who he was and what he was and so on, but it didn't really matter because it's — he's a small microcosm of New York real estate. It's very different when you start looking to seeing what's happening now in the country," he said.
Former mayor Rudy Giuliani, Trump's new attorney, labeled Cohen's walkback "poetic justice."
"Since Cohen began composing for the Angry Democrats he has demonstrably lied under oath in his guilty plea and his testimony to Elijah 'I’ll throw the book at you' Cummings," Giuliani said in another tweet. "Report ignores all of this and provides no facts to evaluate Cohen’s credibility. One of many deceptions," he said in an apparent dig at the Journal.
Cohen's attorney, Lanny Davis, told Fox News: “Nothing said by Mr. Cohen to Tom Arnold contradicts Mr. Cohen’s previous defense attorney, Guy Petrillo, in his sentencing memorandum to the presiding federal U.S. District Court Judge William H. Pauley III back in December. I would also add the important words used by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and others, in describing Michael Cohen’s cooperation and testimony as 'credible' addressing the 'core' issues involved in his investigation.”
The White House did not respond for a request for comment.
Fox News' Tamara Gitt contributed to this report.