For years, Michael Cohen delighted in doing an awful job. He cleaned up Donald Trump’s messes. Cohen first came to President Trump’s attention more than a decade ago when a group of apartment owners in Trump World Tower, a glass skyscraper across from the United Nations, accused Trump of “financial impropriety.” Cohen, who was treasurer of the board, took Trump’s side against his fellow owners and helped quell the revolt. Since then, Cohen has taken pride in declaring himself “the fix-it guy,” and “the guy who would take a bullet for the president.”

In that role, Cohen has reportedly worked with The National Enquirer to buttress Trump’s phony charges that Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States, he has threatened journalists who reported on the claim that Trump raped his ex-wife Ivanka, and he’s allegedly used his own money to pay off Stormy Daniels, who claims she and Trump had an affair. The pattern is clear. Trump acts in some reckless, selfish, sordid, irresponsible or ugly way. Then Cohen comes along to make sure Trump doesn’t suffer the consequences.

What’s striking about all this is that Trump, by becoming president, has turned a great many federal employees into the functional equivalent of Michael Cohen.