Donald Trump has a history of bashing those who plead the Fifth.
At a rally in 2016, Trump said, “The mob takes the Fifth. If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth?” and during a debate with former Secretary of State and then-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, he called pleading the Fifth “disgraceful.”
But now, Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen has invoked the Fifth amendment, using his right not to incriminate himself to secure a temporary stay in a lawsuit filed by adult film actress Stormy Daniels against Trump.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked about Cohen’s choice to plead the Fifth by a reporter Tuesday, who asked whether Trump stands by his earlier remarks about such a move being disgraceful.
“If I may, I wanted to ask you about something that took place last week involving the president’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen,” the reporter said. “He, in court documents, asserted that he would assert his Fifth Amendment rights in the stormy Daniels lawsuit filed against both him and the president.”
The reporter cited Trump’s earlier comments about the mob pleading the Fifth, adding, “Do those comments apply to Michael Cohen? Does he stand by those comments?”
In response, Sanders only said, “I can’t speak for Michael Cohen.”
The (very short) back and forth is the latest example of how Sanders manages never to answer any questions from the press corps. Asked if Trump stands by his earlier comments, she says only that she can’t speak for Cohen — who even isn’t the person for whom she’s being asked to speak.
Cohen is invoking his Fifth amendment rights in Daniels’ civil lawsuit to avoid negatively impacting an ongoing criminal investigation targeting him in New York. On April 9, Cohen’s home, office and hotel room were raided by the FBI. A special master was recently appointed by the court to review the seized material for potential attorney-client privilege.
In granting the stay of the civil case, the federal judge in California said he believed it was likely Cohen would be indicted soon.
Cohen’s precarious legal position has raised concerns that he might flip on Trump. In a recent Fox and Friends interview, Trump appeared to try to distance himself from Cohen. A recent cover of the National Enquirer, which is owned by a personal friend of Trump and has provided him consistently favorable coverage, trashed Cohen.