WASHINGTON — President Trump on Thursday linked his former lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, to his one-time Democratic political rival, Hillary Clinton, a pairing that seemed designed to excite his core voters.
In an early morning Twitter post, Mr. Trump described Mr. Cohen as a “bad lawyer” and reminded the public about Mrs. Clinton’s 2016 interview with the F.B.I., the circumstances of which have become part of a litany of anti-Clinton narratives that cast the investigation into her use of a private server as flawed.
The second lawyer to whom Mr. Trump alludes without naming is most likely Lanny J. Davis, a Washington attorney and close ally of the Clintons, who is currently representing Mr. Cohen.
In an interview on Thursday, Mr. Davis accused Mr. Trump’s current personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, of witness tampering for recent comments he made about Mr. Cohen’s father-in-law, suggesting he might have ties to organized crime. Earlier this week, Mr. Cohen canceled his plans to testify publicly before Congress next month, citing concerns about his family’s safety.
Mr. Trump has previously raised the notion that Mr. Cohen’s father-in-law, Fima Shusterman, a Ukrainian immigrant, has ties to organized crime, but there has been no evidence to back up those claims. Mr. Shusterman pleaded guilty in 1993 of trying to evade federal income reporting requirements and was sentenced to probation.
“Mr. Trump has immunity from indictments, so it’s alleged or argued in the Justice Department,” Mr. Davis said on Thursday in an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “But Mr. Giuliani has committed a crime or at least should be indicted for that crime on the face of what he said on national television.”
Mr. Giuliani responded on Thursday, saying that the president’s remarks were “more than sufficient” to answer those claims.
Mr. Trump and his advisers had been focused on what Mr. Cohen might have said to Congress that could further damage the president’s image and possibly present new legal problems. Republicans, however, were eager for Mr. Cohen to testify, saying privately that they planned to question him aggressively and paint him as a liar.
Top House Democrats have already warned Mr. Trump about witness tampering after the president made comments earlier this month accusing Mr. Cohen of lying in an effort to get a better deal with federal prosecutors.
On Wednesday, Representative Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, who leads the Oversight and Reform Committee, and Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, said they understood Mr. Cohen’s concerns for his family’s safety and repeated their earlier warning against efforts to intimidate witnesses, which is against the law.
Mrs. Clinton, now a private citizen, continues to be a favorite target of Mr. Trump and some of his supporters who have chanted “lock her up” at rallies nearly two years after she lost the presidential election.