“Michael is a friend and I feel sorry for his unfortunate circumstances,” said Sam Nunberg, a former colleague of Mr. Cohen who worked with him to establish the Trump campaign’s early format in 2015.
However, Mr. Nunberg said, he “cannot have any communication” with Mr. Cohen because of his own testimony before the grand jury called by the special counsel investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.
In the eyes of the public and the courts, Mr. Cohen is so far the only one who has paid a price for a role with Mr. Trump that involved payoffs during the 2016 campaign to women who have said they had affairs with him. Another Trump official was given immunity from prosecution to provide information in the Cohen case. Mr. Cohen made clear in court that he was acting at Mr. Trump’s behest.
Still, some major Democratic donors said they saw no reason to support Mr. Cohen, a former Democrat.
“He’s not our natural ally, and he’s not a trustworthy person,” said Sarah Kovner, a prominent Democratic donor and activist, a reference to Mr. Cohen’s many denials of wrongdoing by Mr. Trump before his guilty plea. “I hope he’s got the goods. But how could we rush to him, what would we do?”
Robert Zimmerman, a Democratic National Committee member, said Mr. Cohen might be telling the truth now, but he added he believes it’s “completely self-serving.”
Others said that this approach was misguided.
“This is another example of the Democrats not being strategic fighters when it comes to being able to utilize information and conduct to their benefit,” said Michael J. Avenatti, who, along with his client, Stephanie Clifford, the adult-film actress better known as Stormy Daniels, forced the issue of Mr. Trump’s secret payment to her through Mr. Cohen into the open.