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Michael Cohen’s lawyer says he fears Trump is encouraging ‘vigilantism’ against his family

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Donald Trump at a rally in Ottumwa, Iowa (Evan Guest/Flickr)

President Donald Trump’s efforts of witness intimidation could result in vigilante violence against Michael Cohen and other witnesses, Lanny Davis warned on MSNBC’s “The Beat” with Ari Melber.

The guest likened Trump’s witness intimidation to the plot of the Academy Award-winning 1974 movie The Godfather Part II.

In the film, mob boss Michael Corleone is seeking to silence former caporegime Frank Pentangeli, who has agreed to testify against the family.

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Unable to kill Pentangeli, Corleone summons his brother from Italy.

At the Senate hearing where Pentangeli is set to testify, Corleone sat next to Pentangeli’s brother.

The unspoken threat convinces Pentangeli to diverge from his planned testimony against the family.

“You mentioned Godfather II that’s a situation where you have also congressional hearings and you have a star witness’ family member brought into the hearings,” Melber noted. “But as you know, Mr. Davis, the clear implication in Godfather II was the threat of violence or murder.”

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“Here, the threat appears to be, as I understand your allegation of the crime, that Donald Trump would use investigative resources to target members of Mr. Cohen’s family or are you alleging something beyond that?” Melber asked.

“No, I’m saying what everybody knows is that there are millions of people in this country with access to firearms who engage if violence and hear violent words and violent threats — that we saw in Charlottesville — and we know that these things can happen,” Davis answered.

“So I want to make sure I understand. You mentioned, yes, we are talking, I guess it’s 2019 and this is how these interviews go — we are talking Godfather II in the back of the hearing room, but we are talking Charlottesville as you mentioned an individual was murdered … and you are saying that you think the words of the president in public would encourage potential vigilante-style violence or something more beyond what Donald Trump said in the Fox interview, et cetera, about Cohen’s family?” he asked.

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“Well, first of all, I’m describing the emotional thoughts of a father-in-law from Ukraine who has been here for 45 years and is called out by Rudy Guiliani as having links to organized crime, because he’s from Ukraine,” Davis replied. “That’s Mr. Trump’s lawyer, who does not have immunity and that’s witness tampering on its face.”

“And the message being sent, at least according to the family members, is fear,” he said. “They are fearful. He is fearful. His parents are fearful. So that is what is going on.”

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