A second category of conduct that a prosecutor would likely charge against Trump is attempted witness tampering and intimidation. Trump tried to influence the decisions of both Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort with regard to cooperating with investigators. (Manafort initially cooperated with the special counsel before breaching his cooperation agreement by lying. Cohen cooperated with Mueller but not formally with prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, who said he was not entirely forthcoming.) Some tampering and intimidation was done in plain sight via tweets and public statements, and some was done via private messages through private attorneys.
Trump employed mob-like tactics “using inducements in the form of positive messages” to get Cohen, his former attorney, not to cooperate. For example, Trump urged Cohen publicly and privately not to “flip,” promising through counsel that Cohen would be protected as long as he did not go “rogue.” After Cohen’s office was raided by the FBI last April, Trump told Cohen to “stay strong” and lawyers connected to Trump discussed a possible pardon. One lawyer wrote to Cohen that he spoke to Trump counsel Rudy Giuliani: “Sleep well tonight, you have friends in high places.” Another lawyer assured him that “the boss has your back,” and thanked Cohen for providing false information about illegal hush-money payments to the media. After it became clear that Cohen was cooperating, Trump turned to attacks (he’s a “rat”) and intimidation (his family will be exposed as criminals) to try and deter Cohen’s cooperation and undermine his credibility.