White collar crime lawyers explain why Michael Cohen is poised to become Mueller's 'star witness' against Trump
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen leaves federal court in Manhattan, New York, U.S., May 30, 2018. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen—largely seen as the main fixer behind Trump's shadier ventures, such as paying off women who claimed to have sexual affairs with the president and possible threatening them—has previously said he'd take a "bullet" for Donald Trump.

But in recent days, Cohen has hinted that he prioritizes his family and "patriotism" over fealty to the President. That's led observers to speculate about whether Cohen plans to flip, offering information about the President in exchange for possible immunity.

A group of lawyers writing in the Washington Post noted that in their experience, Cohen's actions indicate that he's very close to turning on the president to save himself.

"With five guilty pleas and 24 indictments already filed, special counsel Robert S. Mueller III poses an obvious threat to the White House," they wrote.

"President Trump admits as much with his incessant attacks on the investigation. But an even greater risk is on the horizon: Michael Cohen’s public statements Monday and other recent signs strongly suggest that Trump’s longtime consigliere will seek to 'flip' on the president, becoming a government cooperator and potential star witness," they continued.

"Because of his role as Trump’s fixer, Cohen is more likely than anyone else to have damaging information on the president."

The threat of jail time is a powerful motivator, a tactic prosecutors usually turn on low-income clients. In this case, a commonwealth prosecutorial tactic may be used to gain valuable information about the president.

"Potentially facing a substantial jail sentence and crippling financial penalties, Cohen is highly motivated to place his own interests above that of his former patron and trade information about the president and others for his own freedom," they go on to explain.

They note that even if Trump isn't indicted, Cohen spilling useful information about the President could fuel calls for impeachment.

"While Republican support for the president seems strong at the moment, that was also the case for Richard Nixon — until it wasn’t," they concluded.