Michael Cohen’s lawyers are abandoning him, now likely to flip

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Michael Cohen
Michael Cohen.
Drew
Angerer/Getty Images


  • The lawyers for President Donald Trump’s longtime
    attorney Michael Cohen are about to leave the case.
  • That could lead him to cooperate with the
    government.
  • “I think the likelihood of Mr. Cohen immediately
    flipping on the president just went through the roof,” Michael
    Avenatti, the attorney for porn star Stormy Daniels, told
    Business Insider.

The attorneys for President Donald Trump’s longtime lawyer
Michael Cohen are about to leave the case, ABC News reported
Wednesday.

Without any legal representation, Cohen is likely to cooperate
with federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New
York,sources told ABC News. He is currently under investigation
for possible campaign-finance violations, bank fraud, and wire
fraud following the FBI’s April raids on his home, office, and
hotel room.

Attorneys Stephen Ryan, Joseph Evans, and Todd Harrison have
represented Cohen in the investigation, which has so far featured
several hearings before US District Judge Kimba Wood related to
the documents seized by the FBI. ABC News identified a “source
representing this matter” as telling them that Cohen was about to
lose his legal representation. The development is believed to be
imminent, and no replacement counsel was identified as of
Wednesday morning.

Cohen, Ryan, Harrison, and Evans did not immediately respond to a
request for comment from Business Insider. Joanna Hendon, the
attorney representing Trump in the case, did not respond to a
request for comment. Neither did Alan Futerfas, the attorney
representing The Trump Organization, or Trump’s outside attorney,
Rudy Giuliani.

As of Wednesday morning, the attorneys had not filed to Wood a
notice to withdraw from the case.  

The ABC News story followed multiple
reports Tuesday that Cohen
told associates he expected to be arrested in a matter of days.
Responding to Vanity Fair’s report on that topic, Cohen said in a
text message to the publication, “Your alleged source is wrong!”

Michael Avenatti, the attorney for porn star Stormy Daniels, told
Business Insider that the reported “abandonment” of Cohen by his
attorneys “is an unmitigated disaster for” Trump and his longtime
lawyer.

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

The Wall Street Journal soon
followed
up the ABC News report, saying that Cohen’s
attorneys are expected to stop representing him. However, a
source told The Journal that Cohen had not yet decided whether he
will cooperate with prosecutors. Cohen is searching for a lawyer
with close ties to the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern
District of New York, The Journal reported.

The center of Cohen’s troubles is a $130,000 hush-money
payment
 that he facilitated to Daniels,
whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, just weeks before the 2016
presidential election to keep her quiet about her allegation of a
2006 affair with Trump.

The current focus of Cohen’s case in the Southern District of New
York is a review of the roughly 3.7 million documents that the
FBI seized from Cohen. In April, 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.

The special master, Barbara Jones, was appointed to oversee the
review and determine what documents she believed were privileged.
Last week, Jones reported that she had completed the review of
the first 300,000 documents, determining that just 162 were
privileged. After initially seeking to be able to file objections
under seal and having their request rebuffed by Wood, the
attorneys for Cohen, Trump, and The Trump Organization filed no
objections to Jones’s determinations by Monday’s deadline to do
so.


Donald Trump
Donald Trump.
Chip
Somodevilla/Getty Images


As of late May, Cohen, Trump, and the Trump Organization had
reviewed roughly 1.3 million of the 3.7 million total documents
obtained by the FBI. In a hearing then, Wood said
their review was
going
 too slowly and ordered them to have
it completed by this Friday.

If Cohen’s team can’t finish reviewing the documents to
make privilege
designations
 by Friday, Wood might turn the
rest over to a “taint team” of government prosecutors to finish
the review, she said. That team would be walled off from those
who might prosecute Cohen. It’s exactly the option Cohen
and Trump didn’t want to have happen.

Trump has reportedly been steamed about the entire Cohen ordeal,
and his allies have long feared that the attorney would flip and
provide the government with information that could be damaging to
the president.

Last month, The Washington Post
reported
 Trump was venting about the Cohen
raids
 as often as “20 times a day” to
close associates. 

On Friday, Trump said he hadn’t thought about pardoning Cohen,
adding that he hadn’t been “convicted of anything.”

It’s “far too early to be thinking about that,’ he said.

Giuliani told Business Insider last
month
 that the president’s legal team isn’t
terribly concerned about developments in the Cohen investigation
because “it doesn’t really affect us.”