What date do you have in the impeachment pool? Put me down for Christmas Eve.
Nah, just kidding. It’ll probably have to wait until Democrats are back in charge of the House. Sometime in mid-January.
Unless, of course, this ABC story is garbage, based on dubious sources. Wouldn’t be the first time the network has dived headfirst off a cliff chasing a big Russiagate scoop that spelled trouble for Trump, although I note that George Stephanopoulos’s byline is on this one. Hard to believe Steph would lay his personal credibility on the line unless he thought it was solid. It’s awfully thin on details, though:
As attorneys for Michael Cohen rush to meet Judge Kimba Wood’s Friday deadline to complete a privilege review of over 3.7 million documents seized in the April 9 raids of Cohen’s New York properties and law office, a source representing this matter has disclosed to ABC News that the law firm handling the case for Cohen is not expected to represent him going forward…
Cohen, now with no legal representation, is likely to cooperate with federal prosecutors in New York, sources said. This development, which is believed to be imminent, will likely hit the White House, family members, staffers and counsels hard.
Annnnd that’s it as of 10:45 a.m. ET. No quotes, no named sources, not even a “Cohen reportedly told friends.” It seems based on an assumption: Because Cohen is about to be momentarily lawyer-less, he must be preparing to roll over. Maybe he’s lining up new representation, though, inspired by his boss’s weird habit of cycling through attorneys every few months.
Or maybe not. Yesterday Gabriel Sherman tossed this news morsel into a write-up about the coming White House showdown with Mueller:
Trump allies view the legal cloud hanging over Trump’s former attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, as at least as ominous as the obstruction investigation. According to a source close to Cohen, Cohen has told friends that he expects to be arrested any day now. (Reached for comment, Cohen wrote in a text message, “Your alleged source is wrong!”) The specter of Cohen flipping has Trump advisers on edge. “Trump should be super worried about Michael Cohen,” a former White House official said. “If anyone can blow up Trump, it’s him.”
If it’s true that Cohen is hearing footsteps right behind him, it would follow that he might suddenly be looking to play nice with the feds. Possibly he was holding out to see if the special master appointed by Judge Kimba Wood would be stingy or generous in characterizing materials seized from him by the FBI as privileged or not. If she was generous and ended up denying lots of material to the U.S. Attorney, maybe Cohen would have taken his chances and fought prosecution. Early signs, though, are that she’s been stingy. If the feds are going to end up seeing more or less everything and Cohen knows there’s something incriminating in there, what choice does he have? Even if he wanted to protect Trump, there may be a paper trail that would cause trouble for POTUS whether or not Cohen cooperated. He might as well save himself.
As for the possibility that he’s just preparing to replace his current legal team with a different one, eh. Here’s what went down in court two weeks ago, when Cohen last appeared before Wood:
Cohen’s legal team has little reason to celebrate. The judge told the team they were moving way too slowly in their review of the seized documents. Todd Harrison, another Cohen lawyer, had lamented that his operation of 15 lawyers and two data specialists was “moving heaven and earth” to finish its review of 3.7 million documents. Wood showed no sympathy when Harrison said they had worked through the Memorial Day weekend and were even sleeping on couches to meet her demands. All told, she gave them until June 15 to wrap it up, or else turn over what’s left over to prosecutors to make the privilege calls.
June 15th is Friday. It would be strange for Cohen’s lawyers to be eyeing the exits in the midst of reviewing a mountain of documents with a hard deadline approaching. Either Cohen is simply out of money — this sort of document review would be fantastically expensive — or his new lawyer is about to be the U.S. Attorney’s office, plus whoever he brings in to help negotiate a plea deal. But all of this assumes that Stephanopoulos’s bombshell is accurate. Is it?
We’ll know soon. If Cohen’s about to flip, Trump must have an inkling. And if Trump has an inkling, soon his loyal devotees in righty media will too. If you see Hannity starting to attack the credibility of Cohen — his own lawyer — at 9 p.m. tonight, there’s the proof.
Update: The part about Cohen parting ways with his lawyers is true, says the WSJ. The part about him flipping — possibly, but ABC may be stretching it in calling it “likely.” Note the boldfaced bit, though:
Mr. Cohen doesn’t yet have a replacement law firm but is searching for a federal criminal lawyer in New York, people familiar with the matter said. Mr. Cohen wants to hire a lawyer with close ties to the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office, the people said.
Mr. Cohen hasn’t yet decided whether he will cooperate with prosecutors in the case, according to one of those people. He hasn’t been charged with any crime.
A lawyer on good terms with Manhattan prosecutors is exactly what you’d want if you were thinking of making a deal.
Update: Someone’s lookin’ for a pardon!
Person close to Cohen says he hasn’t flipped yet, “he’s sending up a smoke signal to Trump: I need help.”
— Gabriel Sherman (@gabrielsherman) June 13, 2018
A pardon would be tricky since it would let Cohen off the hook criminally but also nuke his right against self-incrimination, which would mean he’d have to testify against Trump or whoever else. If Trump pardons him, presumably the implicit deal would be that Cohen is spared any long criminal sentences in exchange for keeping his mouth shut and accepting a short-ish prison sentence for contempt of court by refusing to testify when called. And no, I can’t believe we’re gaming out scenarios like that involving the president of the United States.
The Manhattan U.S. Attorney must already have the pardon scenario in mind, though, given Trump’s recent clemency spree. They’d be nuts not to be chatting at length at this point with the Manhattan D.A. in anticipation of state charges being filed against Cohen in case the federal case gets pardoned out.