Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen likely to cooperate as his attorneys leave case, sources say By GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS Jun 13, 2018, 12:29 PM ET
Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s longtime confidant and former personal attorney, is likely to cooperate with federal investigators, as his lawyers are expected to leave the case, sources said.
To date, Cohen has been represented by Stephen Ryan and Todd Harrison of the Washington and New York firm, McDermott, Will & Emery LLP, but a source representing this matter has disclosed to ABC News that they are not expected to represent him going forward.
No replacement counsel has been identified as of this time.
Cohen, who has been under criminal investigation for months, which is separate from the special counsel case, has been rushing to meet U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood’s Friday deadline to complete a privilege review of over 3.7 million documents seized in the April 9 raids of Cohen’s New York properties and law office.
Cohen, who is under federal investigation now with no legal representation, is likely to cooperate with federal prosecutors in Manhattan, sources said. This development, which is believed to be imminent, will likely hit the White House, family members, staffers and counsels hard.
Two sources who are familiar with a warrant in the case told ABC News in April that federal agents were hunting for records tied to Cohen’s personal business dealings and secret deals with alleged mistresses, media organizations and the 2016 presidential campaign.
Cohen’s attorney at the time of the raids released a terse statement shortly after the April raids arguing that the seized documents included “the unnecessary seizure of protected attorney-client communications between a lawyer and his clients.”
“These government tactics are also wrong because Mr. Cohen has cooperated completely with all government entities,” Stephen Ryan said.
Two days after the raids, Cohen told ABC News: “I just want my stuff back.”
President Trump also lashed out in a tweet, writing, “Attorney-client privilege is dead!”
He told reporters at the White House that the move against his longtime personal attorney, which he likened to a break-in, was a “disgraceful situation.”
“It’s an attack on our country in a true sense. It’s an attack on all we stand for,” the president said during a meeting with senior military leadership at the White House. “That is really now on a whole new level of unfairness.”
Cohen then went to federal court in Manhattan arguing that his attorneys should be given a first look at the materials seized in the raids for items potentially covered by attorney-client privilege before federal prosecutors could examine the haul.
Judge Wood subsequently appointed former federal judge Barbara Jones to act as a “special master” to conduct an impartial review of the materials and to referee any disputes between Cohen and the government.
Trump and the Trump Organization intervened in the case and were also granted access to review the materials for potentially privileged items.
Jones reported last week that of the first 300,000 items reviewed, she had determined that just 162 of them were covered by attorney-client privilege. She rejected three items that Cohen, Trump or the Trump organization had designated as privileged.
Judge Wood has given Cohen’s attorneys until Friday to complete the review of the remaining documents. Any remaining items to be reviewed would be turned over to a team of federal prosecutors unconnected to the case to complete the examination of the documents.
ABC News' James Hill, John Santucci, Katherine Faulders and Kyra Phillips contributed to this report.
2/ It’s not surprising that Cohen is moving towards cooperation, if the @abcnews reports are correct. When the FBI executes a search warrant at your home and office, you’re in trouble. The judge in the Stormy Daniels case concluded Cohen is likely to be charged, and he’s right.
3/ Although Cohen is cooperating with federal prosecutors in Manhattan (not Mueller’s team), cooperation deals typically require the cooperator to provide all information about any criminal activity he knows about. Prosecutors then share that info with other jurisdictions.
4/ Assuming that Cohen has information that will be useful to law enforcement—information that will lead to charges against others—he will get a deal. But one unusual complication is that Cohen is an attorney and some information he has may be about former clients.
5/ There are ample examples of attorneys who are prosecuted—I tried and convicted one—but when they cooperate, everyone involved needs to make sure attorney-client privilege is respected.
6/ Most conversations involving criminal activity likely won’t be privileged because they don’t involve legal advice. Only conversations about legal advice are privileged. A conversation about legal advice isn’t privileged if the advice is used to further the crime.
7/ That last sentence is called the “crime/fraud” exception to attorney-client privilege. It’s more limited than some commentators suggest, but combined with the fact that most criminal conversations aren’t about legal advice, likely few of Cohen’s conversations were privileged.
8/ It’s also worth noting that federal prosecutors allege that Cohen didn’t practice law much, and thus far the documents they seized are consistent with that allegation. The retired judge reviewing the Cohen documents found that less than 1/10th of one percent were privileged.
9/ So if Cohen cooperates, he will have to tell almost all of what he knows about criminal activity to federal prosecutors, who can share that info with Mueller, other federal prosecutors, and state prosecutors.
10/ Trump could derail all of this with a pardon of Cohen. His recent talk of pardons appears to be an attempt to reduce the political damage of giving pardons. If Trump pardoned Cohen for federal crimes, state prosecutors would have to use the evidence gathered by the FBI.
11/ That could result in a cooperation deal for state, not federal authorities. By moving towards cooperation now, Cohen is signaling that he doesn’t believe he will receive a pardon—or he’s trying to get one sooner rather than later.
12/ Regardless of how it plays out, Cohen’s cooperation is a blow to the Trump team and could strengthen the case Mueller is building. How much it helps Mueller depends on what Cohen knows and how forthcoming he is. /end
3. "Hologram in the R2 unit " In response to Reply # 0
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