Donald Trump

Donald Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, ‘drops his legal team’ and may cooperate with prosecutors

While Cohen has not been charged with a crime, he is the subject of an investigation by federal prosecutors of alleged wire fraud and other crimes

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 June, 2018, 1:12am
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 June, 2018, 3:14am

Michael Cohen, the long-time personal lawyer of Donald Trump, is preparing to part ways with the legal team that has been representing him in federal court in New York, multiple reports said on Wednesday.

Following an April 9 raid on his residences and office, Cohen has been represented by Stephen Ryan and Todd Harrison of the firm McDermott, Will & Emery LLP, who are “not expected to represent him going forward”, ABC News first reported.

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The switch in legal representation could be a prelude for a deal for Cohen to cooperate with prosecutors, legal analysts said, although The Wall Street Journal reported that Cohen had not yet made such a decision.

The law firm, which has represented Cohen since June 2017, would part company with him at the end of the week, the Journal reported.

Phone messages left for Ryan were not immediately returned.

While Cohen has not been charged with a crime, he is the subject of an investigation by federal prosecutors of alleged wire fraud and other related activities. He has appeared repeatedly in court over the last two months in an effort to block prosecutors from using documents seized in the raids.

Those documents include millions of electronic files from four phones, an iPad, multiple hard drives and USB drives, and at least eight boxes of paper documents, which came amid claims that he had paid off the adult-film actress Stormy Daniels just ahead of the presidential election in 2016.

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A judge had set a deadline of Friday for Cohen’s legal team to finish its review of the seized documents. Cohen, a 51-year-old father of two college-age children, recently told friends that he expected to be arrested at any moment, Vanity Fair reported.

Any cooperation by Cohen with prosecutors would represent a significant blow to Trump, whose campaign is under investigation by the special counsel Robert Mueller for alleged collusion with Russia and who regularly expresses acute frustration with investigators.

For a decade, Cohen has served as one of Trump’s most trusted aides, scouting foreign real estate deals and handling sensitive transactions, including the Daniels deal.

Daniels alleges an affair with Trump, which the president has denied.

Cohen under scrutiny for allegedly selling ‘insight’ into the White House

Cohen set up a limited liability corporation, Essential Consultants LLC, to make a US$130,000 payment to Daniels. Later, Cohen used the LLC to receive millions of dollars in payments from corporations that hired him for access to Trump.

The federal investigation of Cohen now under way in New York was referred there by Mueller, whose separate inquiry may have been the first to assess suspect money flows through Essential Consultants, which Cohen registered as a vehicle for “modest” payments for real-estate consulting services.