Trump’s fixer Cohen part­ing with his lawyers

Houston Chronicle - - NATION | WORLD -

NEW YORK — Michael Cohen, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s long­time per­sonal fixer, will soon be part­ing from the lawyers who are rep­re­sent­ing him in a wide-rang­ing fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tion into his busi­ness deal­ings, ac­cord­ing to two peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the case.

Cohen has not yet been ap­proached by the prose­cu­tors con­duct­ing the in­quiry to seek his co­op­er­a­tion, ac­cord­ing to two peo­ple briefed on the case. But as the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into him con­tin­ues, and with his le­gal team in flux, the pres­sure on Cohen to co­op­er­ate may well in­ten­sify.

Cohen’s cur­rent lawyers — a three-man team from the firm of McDer­mott Will & Emery — are ex­pected to stay with him for the rest of the week as they strug­gle to com­plete a la­bo­ri­ous re­view of a trove of doc­u­ments and data files seized from their client in a series of ex­tra­or­di­nary ear­ly­morn­ing raids two months ago. That process is cru­cial be­cause it will ul­ti­mately shape the con­tours of the ev­i­dence that the prose­cu­tors will be able to use.

But after that re­view is fin­ished, Cohen will seek new le­gal coun­sel, the peo­ple fa­mil­iar with his case said. They added that the is­sues con­cern the pay­ment of le­gal bills to his lawyers and their rel­a­tive lack of ex­pe­ri­ence with the fed­eral prose­cu­tors’ office in New York. It is not un­com­mon for clients — even those, like Cohen, who have not yet been charged with a crime — to change their lawyers in the mid­dle of a case.

Cohen has been fac­ing scru­tiny for months, but the case burst into public view on April 9 when fed­eral agents with search war­rants de­scended on his office, apart­ment and ho­tel room, haul­ing away eight boxes of paper­work and about 30 cell­phones, iPads and com­put­ers. The ma­te­ri­als were seized on the or­ders of prose­cu­tors in Man­hat­tan who have been try­ing to de­ter­mine whether Cohen broke the law in any of his busi­ness projects, in­clud­ing hush-money pay­ments he made to two women who claim they had af­fairs with Trump.

The Cohen in­quiry is sep­a­rate from the one be­ing run in Wash­ing­ton by the spe­cial coun­sel, Robert Mueller, who is look­ing into po­ten­tial ties be­tween Trump, his as­so­ciates and Russia. But Trump’s lawyers have con­fronted the specter that the New York­based in­ves­ti­ga­tion could per­suade Cohen to co­op­er­ate with Mueller’s team.

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