Fri, 16 Nov 2018
Salt Lake City

Sources reveal Michael Cohen’s lawyers have abandoned him

By Sheetal Sukhija, Utah State News
14 Jun 2018, 07 GMT+10

WASHINGTON, U.S. - Abandoned by his own lawyers and under intense pressure from prosecutors, the odds of U.S. President Donald Trump’s longtime attorney, Michael Cohen flipping on the President are becoming more likely than before.

Last year, Cohen, who calls himself Trump's "fix-it man,” became part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election for his emails to Russian officials about a business project there, including a note to Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman.

Cohen has also been under criminal investigation in New York over his business dealings for months now.

He faced a recent storm of accusations after it was revealed that he facilitated a $130,000 hush-money payment to a porn star Stormy Daniels (Stephanie Clifford), just weeks before the 2016 presidential election to remain quiet on her allegation of a 2006 affair with Trump.

Then, in April, the FBI raided Cohen’s office, home and hotel room and seized emails, tax documents and records related to his $130,000 payment to Daniels.

Complicating his case, in a May 2 interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, Trump’s new top lawyer, Rudy Giuliani said that Trump had reimbursed his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, for the $130,000 payment to the porn star.

Disclosing the reimbursement set off a media firestorm especially since Trump had previously stated that he isn’t aware of the alleged payment made to Daniels, who claims to have had an affair with the President.

Fearing the seizure of multiple documents, Trump expressed frustration at the raid and tweeted at the time, “Attorney Client privilege is now a thing of the past. I have many (too many!) lawyers and they are probably wondering when their offices, and even homes, are going to be raided with everything, including their phones and computers, taken. All lawyers are deflated and concerned!"

Cohen is now under investigation for possible campaign-finance violations, bank fraud, and wire fraud

The current focus of Cohen's case in the Southern District of New York is a review of about 3.7 million documents that the FBI seized in April. 

After the FBI raid, Cohen and his lawyers successfully argued to have a special master appointed, which allowed them, Trump's attorneys, and the Trump Organization to make determinations over what documents were protected by attorney-client privilege and could not be used in a potential prosecution.

Subsequently, Barbara Jones was appointed as the special master to oversee the review and determine what documents she believed were privileged. 

In a statement last week, Jones said that she had completed the review of the first 300,000 documents, determining that just 162 were privileged.

Further, at the end of May, Cohen, Trump, and the Trump Organization had reportedly reviewed roughly 1.3 million of the 3.7 million documents obtained by the FBI.

However, U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood noted at a hearing in late May that their review was moving too slowly and ordered them to complete it by Friday (June 15).

If Cohen’s team fails to complete the review of documents to make privilege designations by then, Judge Wood might reportedly turn the rest over to a "taint team" of government prosecutors to finish the review.

To make matters worse, this particular team would be walled off from those who might prosecute Cohen.

Now, amid the intense pressure to meet the deadline, reports have revealed that Cohen’s lawyers are planning on abandoning him.

Further, reports also revealed on Tuesday that Cohen told associates he expected to be arrested in a matter of days.

So far, Cohen has been represented in the investigation related to the documents seized by the FBI by Stephen Ryan, Joseph Evans, and Todd Harrison.

Now, a report in ABC News quoted a “source representing this matter” as revealing that Cohen was about to lose his legal representation and that they are not expected to represent him.

As of Wednesday morning, the report added that no replacement counsel was identified.

The sources further stated that Cohen, who is under federal investigation now with no legal representation, is likely to cooperate with federal prosecutors in Manhattan. 

Such a move by a man, who has been the U.S. President’s personal lawyer for several years now, is likely hit the White House, family members, staffers and counsels hard.

If Cohen flips, he could provide the government with information that is likely to be damaging to the president.

Last week, questioned by reporters, Trump said that so far, he hadn't thought about pardoning Cohen, adding that he hadn't been "convicted of anything."

Trump also said that it is “far too early to be thinking about that.”

Meanwhile, in an interview with Business Insider, Michael Avenatti, the attorney for porn star Stormy Daniels said that the reported "abandonment" of Cohen by his attorneys "is an unmitigated disaster for" Trump and his longtime lawyer.

Avenatti reportedly said, "I think the likelihood of Mr. Cohen immediately flipping on the president just went through the roof. Our case gets better every day."

Last month, Avenatti pointed out, “Michael Cohen served as the personal attorney for Donald Trump for upwards of 12 years. The idea that nothing improper that he did in that time period could blow back on Mr. Trump is absurd.”

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