Michael Cohen is up to his eyeballs in legal and financial problems. He just hocked the family home in order to save the taxicab business, and his very expensive lawyers just dropped him. Michael Avenatti guestimated that McDermot, Will & Emery may have been billing as much as $350K to $500K per week: and guess who’s been footing that bill? New York Times:
Mr. Trump’s businesses have not been funding Mr. Cohen’s entire legal defense, but the Trump family has been paying for the time-consuming — and enormously expensive — process of reviewing the voluminous materials seized in the raids on Mr. Cohen, according to people familiar with the case. Recently, however, a dispute has erupted over the amount that Mr. Cohen’s lawyers want to charge the Trump family enterprises for the review, which the lawyers have said they are running with a large team of associates and data specialists. The disagreement could serve to further isolate Mr. Cohen from Mr. Trump — a risky move for the president.
“If somebody is telling you that people stopped payment, that is not true,” said Alan Futerfas, a lawyer for the Trump Organization, Mr. Trump’s private company. “There was a negotiated amount for this project and I believe that both sides have lived up to their obligations.”
Maybe Trump didn’t stiff the firm. Maybe Trump honored his obligations for once, but even if he did, he didn’t get what he was bargaining for. The Special Master in the case ruled that only a fraction of the materials seized were protected by attorney-client privilege, 162 out of the first 300,000 documents reviewed. The rest of the materials seized, an estimated four million, are to be reviewed by the end of business Friday.
That being the case, Trump has got to be sweating bullets. He thought attorney-client privilege meant anything he ever chit chatted about with a lawyer, (and probably so did Michael Cohen, he’s not the sharpest legal knife in the drawer) and now it’s sinking in that his secrets are about to be made public. Added on top of the lack of privilege is the fact that a financially beleaguered Cohen is a very likely candidate to flip. Take a moment to review the situation with Rick Gates, whose decision to flip coincided with the departure of his lawyers. Bloomberg (February 1, 2018)
Three lawyers for Paul Manafort’s co-defendant, Rick Gates, have told the court they want to quit in the criminal money-laundering conspiracy case, raising the possibility of a defense strategy shift and possible cooperation with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
The attorneys, Shanlon Wu, Walter Mack and Annemarie McAvoy, sought permission to step down in a two-page filing late Thursday with U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington. Their reasons could range from financial or compatibility issues to differences in defense strategy to Gates agreeing to cooperate with Mueller’s team.
Now it’s not unheard of for clients to change lawyers in the middle of a case. It’s done all the time, so each situation has be evaluated on a case by case basis. In this case, it’s wise to bear in mind that an additional pressure that Cohen faces, besides being financially drained, is the fact that his partner in the taxicab business, Evgeny A. Freidman, the “Taxi King” agreed to cooperate with authorities in exchange for a plea deal.
The broadened scope of Mr. Freidman’s cooperation may prove worrisome not only to Mr. Cohen, who is the target of a continuing federal investigation, but also Mr. Trump.
The president’s lawyers are already resigned to the strong possibility that the inquiry into Mr. Cohen’s businesses could lead him to cooperate with federal prosecutors. That likelihood may now be greater, with Mr. Freidman potentially sharing what he knows with federal prosecutors in New York and the special counsel.
So connect the dots: Freidman is in the bag and he’s going to share what he knows about Michael Cohen to save his own hide. He may even know some juicy things about Donald Trump. The attorney-client privilege ploy is not working out at all as Trump anticipated, plus it’s just been publicized that Cohen is stretched thin financially, to say the least. The lawyers may have left due to a fee dispute, or another compelling reason is that the New York investigation is more problematic than anticipated. Cohen’s lawyer, Stephen Ryan, is Washington based and admittedly not all that family with federal New York court procedures. Or it could be a combination of factors. But none of it bodes well for Cohen “taking a bullet” for Trump. And he knows it.
…ever since the raids involving Mr. Cohen took place, Mr. Trump’s lawyers have confronted the specter that the New York-based investigation could persuade Mr. Cohen, who has a wife and two children and faces the prospect of devastating legal fees, to cut a deal and share his intimate knowledge of Mr. Trump with Mr. Mueller’s team. Mr. Cohen, after all, worked for Mr. Trump for years as a lawyer and self-described “fix-it guy,” guarding his boss’s secrets and helping him to navigate some of the most sensitive episodes in his personal and professional life.
One person with knowledge of the legal staffing change said Mr. Trump’s camp was “very displeased” with the way the Cohen investigation had so far been conducted. Mr. Trump himself has told people he is angry at Mr. Cohen over the messiness of the situation — especially those aspects involving Ms. Clifford. But the president has also indicated to allies that he is worried that if he pushes Mr. Cohen away too hard, it could increase the likelihood that Mr. Cohen will offer information to the government.
Michael Avenatti: "I think that Michael Cohen is in a very, very bad spot and I think the President is in a very, very bad spot because this is what happens when you trust your innermost secrets to a moron"
— Edward Hardy (@EdwardTHardy) June 14, 2018
And don’t forget, in Trump World, loyalty is a one way street. Cohen has no future with Trump and if he can’t figure that out and put his own survival first, then he is an even bigger moron than Avenatti says.