A few days after Michael Cohen sat down with ABC News and told anchor George Stephanopoulos that his "first loyalty" is to his wife, son, daughter, and country — not, apparently, President Trump anymore — Cohen made a kind of suggestive change to his Twitter bio.
— Emily Jane Fox (@emilyjanefox) July 4, 2018
The stripping of Trump from his Twitter bio may just be Cohen recognizing that he is, in fact, no longer a "personal attorney to President Donald J. Trump." But as CNN's Brooke Baldwin noted Wednesday, this looks an awful lot like Cohen's "official Twitter breakup" with Trump, as Cohen faces serious legal jeopardy from federal prosecutors. You can watch Baldwin's guests weigh in on the implications for Trump and Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation below. Peter Weber
Stormy Daniels lawyer 'shocked,' unimpressed after federal prosecutors cancel meeting in Michael Cohen case
Late Sunday, federal prosecutors in Manhattan involved in the Michael Cohen case abruptly canceled a meeting scheduled for Monday with porn actress Stormy Daniels, according to her lawyer, Michael Avenatti. The meeting was to discuss possible grand jury testimony from Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, regarding the $130,000 Cohen paid her to stay quiet about the extramarital affair she said she had with President Trump in 2006. Avenatti said the prosecutors scrapped the meeting because it had been reported in the press. "I was shocked at that response," Avenatti said.
"We believe canceling the meeting because the press has now caught wind of it is ridiculous," Avenatti told Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicolas Roos in an email. "We do not think it was any secret that at some point you were going to meet with my client." He added on Twitter that if the prosecutors "can't handle a few cameras outside their offices," how would "they ever bring any serious criminal charges against Cohen et al., let alone handle a trial, in such a high profile matter? ... We remain willing to cooperate but something isn't right." The office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York has been investigating Cohen's hush payments among other business transactions.
Avenatti and Daniels have turned over documents in response to a federal subpoena, The Associated Press reports, and Avenatti said Daniels has been cooperating with federal prosecutors for months. For what it's worth — and it may not be worth much at all — Tom Arnold says Cohen is also cooperating with federal prosecutors. You can watch MSNBC's Steve Kornacki run down Arnold's bizarre interviews, as well as the current status of the Cohen investigation, below. Peter Weber
Federal investigators are poised to gain access to an additional one million items that were seized from President Trump's attorney Michael Cohen, the New York Post reported Wednesday.
New court filings show that investigators are already looking over nearly 300,000 items, and that three of Cohen's seized phones will produce more than one million more, which will be released to federal agencies on Wednesday. Last month, federal agents raided Cohen's office and hotel room, seizing documents and items related to a criminal investigation. Cohen is being probed for potential bank fraud and campaign finance violations, including a potential violation when Cohen paid Stormy Daniels $130,000 as part of a hush deal over an alleged affair with Trump.
Barbara Jones, the special master who is reviewing all of the seized documents, said that the new trove of items aren't "privileged or highly personal" in a way that infringes on attorney-client confidentiality. Agents seized items that included private communication between Cohen and the president. Cohen, Trump, and Trump's real estate company will be splitting the bill for Jones' work, which has added up to more than $47,000 for the first six days, the Post reports. Summer Meza
Michael Cohen, President Trump's personal attorney, was paid at least $400,000 to arrange a talk between Trump and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, BBC reported Wednesday.
Trump and Poroshenko had a brief meet-and-greet at the White House last June, but sources in Kiev told BBC that Ukrainian agents facilitated the meeting with Cohen as part of an effort to establish a "back channel" to Trump. Cohen's role in the arrangement would have legally required him to register as a representative of Ukraine, which he did not do.
Cohen accepted money to fix a meeting between the two leaders that went beyond the brief Oval Office handshake, sources said. Poroshenko reportedly wanted to address allegations against Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort, who has been charged with a number of crimes related to dealings in Ukraine. Ukrainian officials stopped investigating Manafort soon after the June meeting.
BBC reports that Poroshenko and Trump entered an "understanding" of sorts, with the U.S. selling Ukraine arms, coal, and diesel trains and Poroshenko believing there to be a "non-aggression pact" between the two leaders.
One of Michael Cohen's business partners, Evgeny Freidman, is cooperating with federal prosecutors who are probing Cohen's business dealings, The New York Times reports.
Freidman on Tuesday pleaded guilty to tax evasion, but has reportedly agreed to be a witness to avoid jail time. Investigators are looking into Cohen, President Trump's longtime fixer and lawyer, as part of the larger probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Freidman's plea deal could be used to pressure Cohen into cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the Times reports.
Cohen and Freidman were longtime partners in the taxi business; Freidman even earned the nickname "Taxi King" for managing so many cabs and taxi medallions. He was facing up to 25 years in prison for multiple charges of tax fraud, but will instead receive five years of probation if he fulfills his promise to help federal agents. Read more at The New York Times. Summer Meza
Federal investigators in New York City have started poring through the files seized from Michael Cohen, President Trump's personal lawyer, more than a month after FBI agents exercised a search warrant on Cohen's office, residences, and bank deposit box on April 9. At the request of Cohen's legal team, U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood allowed Cohen and a neutral arbiter called a special master to go through the documents first to flag files covered by attorney-client privilege with Cohen's three law clients: Trump, Sean Hannity, and GOP fundraiser Elliott Broidy. If the documents are deemed privileged, prosecutors won't be able to see them.
The first batch of documents processed by the special master, Barbara Jones, and Cohen's team included Cohen's paper documents, and Jones said last week that she will give Wood a timeline for processing the much larger collection of electronic files once she gets enough of that material; the government is expected to hand over all electronic files except from one computer by Friday. The office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York is investigating Cohen for possible business fraud, and prosecutors have suggested that little of Cohen's relevant documents will be covered by attorney-client privilege. Peter Weber
"I'm not going to just roll over," Michael Cohen has told friends as he fumes and despairs over the barrage of unflattering headlines about him and his legal woes, Vanity Fair reports. He also confides: "I just can't take this anymore." Wednesday evening brought a slew of new revelations, including reports that two suspicious bank activity reports on Cohen are mysteriously missing, he worked to get a Trump Tower in Moscow built far later than previously disclosed, the FBI is investigating his payments from a South Korean state-owned aerospace firm, and he solicited what appears to be a $1 million bribe from Qatar.
Cohen told Congress last summer that he had given up on the Moscow Trump Tower project in January 2016. But congressional investigators and Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team have obtained text messages and emails showing that Cohen actively pursued the project as late as May 2016, as then-candidate Donald Trump clinched the Republican nomination, Yahoo News reports.
The texts and emails were provided by Felix Sater, a Russian-born developer and longtime Cohen friend who was partnering on the Trump Tower project. Sater encouraged Cohen to network with Russian officials at a conference in St. Petersburg in mid-June 2016 and wrangled him an invitation, Yahoo says, and Cohen considered going but decided he couldn't travel to Russia until after the Republican convention in July.
Separately, The Washington Post and The Intercept report that Cohen solicited at least $1 million from Qatar for access to Trump and help with U.S. government projects on the sidelines of a Dec. 12, 2016, meeting at Trump Tower. Cohen first asked for the payment a few days earlier when he met Qatari investment fund executive Ahmed al-Rumaihi at a hotel, Rumaihi told The Washington Post on Wednesday. "He just threw it out there" as a cost of "doing business," he said, and after he refused, Cohen asked again as the two men waited outside a Trump Tower meeting. Peter Weber
Very few parties involved in Michael Cohen's efforts to profit off his relationship to President Trump seem to be satisfied with the arrangement. Cohen told associates he felt he was underpaid by law firm Squire Patton Boggs, which gave him $500,000 a year plus office space in New York and a cut of any fees from clients he referred, The Wall Street Journal reports, and his work for other clients and prospective clients "dragged some of the world's largest corporations and other firms into Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation."
AT&T and Novartis shared information with Mueller's office about their agreements with Cohen and Ford provided information about Cohen's unsuccessful pitch to decipher Trump's inner circle, the Journal says. "More fortunate are the dozens of Fortune 100 companies who ... said they hadn't received any overtures from Mr. Cohen or had any contact with him." Along with Ford, Uber said it turned down Cohen's overtures.
Last week, AT&T ousted Bob Quinn, a senior vice president involved in paying Cohen $600,000 last year, and called the deal "a big mistake" and a "serious misjudgment." Novartis quickly determined that its $50,000-a-month contract with Cohen was useless but kept paying him so as not to anger Trump, a Novartis employee told Stat News.
Cohen had big plans after Trump's election, partly spurred by heavy losses in his taxi medallion business that left his upscale Manhattan lifestyle on what a friend called "precarious" footing, the Journal reports. After it became clear Trump wouldn't install him in the White House, Cohen began telling friends and associates that he was "going to build up a huge practice," one associate told the Journal. By last winter, Cohen was complaining to friends that Trump was "not calling him and not helping him," the Journal says, and by March he was considering whether he should quit as Trump's personal lawyer. You can read more about Cohen's hit-and-miss 2017 at The Wall Street Journal. Peter Weber