Well, this could be troublesome for quite a few people.
So let’s start here: When is the last time anyone heard from President Trump’s attorney and potentially unstable mouthpiece, Rudy Giuliani?
Does it seem like someone stuffed him in a closet, somewhere?
If they haven’t, yet, after this ABC News report, they may.
This particular tale of Trumpian intrigue involves former Trump attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, as well.
For those who were glued to their television sets last week, as Cohen gave his testimony before Congress, there were several things that may have caught your attention.
It certainly caught mine.
At one point during Cohen’s testimony, he refused to answer a question about the last communications he had with President Trump or someone from Trump’s team. The reason stated was that federal prosecutors were currently investigating that issue.
“Unfortunately, this topic is something that’s being investigated right now by the Southern District of New York, and I’ve been asked by them not to discuss and not to talk about these issues,” Cohen said.
According to the ABC report, following the federal raids on Cohen’s home and offices, he was faced with making a decision about whether to remain in a joint defense agreement with Team Trump, or whether to cooperate and roll on his former boss.
As he struggled with this decision, he was approached by two New York attorneys, insinuating a connection to Rudy Giuliani, and therefore, a connection to the president.
The sources familiar with the contacts said the two lawyers first reached out to Cohen late in April of last year and that the discussions continued for about two months. The attorneys, who have no known formal ties to the White House, urged Cohen not to leave the joint defense agreement, the sources told ABC News, and also offered a Plan B. In the event Cohen opted to exit the agreement, they could join his legal team and act as a conduit between Cohen and the president’s lawyers.
At one point in the discussions, one of the attorneys sent Cohen a phone screenshot to prove they were in touch with Giuliani, the sources said.
In case you’re wondering, yes. Cohen has also covered this topic in his discussions with special counsel Robert Mueller.
The men were careful not to mention or offer a pardon, but they did seem to suggest things would go better for him, if he stayed true to President Trump.
Cohen eventually decided against staying in the joint defense agreement, which included he and attorneys for the Trump Organization going over files that had been seized in the raids, determining if anything was protected by attorney-client privilege.
Rather than go with the two New York attorneys, Cohen decided to go with Guy Petrillo, a white-collar defense lawyer out of New York.
According to the sources, the attorneys cautioned Cohen that hiring Petrillo, the former head of the criminal division of the Southern District of New York, could effectively end all contact between Cohen and Trump’s legal team. They noted that Petrillo had previously worked with prominent Trump critics, including former FBI Director James Comey and Preet Bharara, the former US Attorney in Manhattan, who had been fired by the president.
As it became clear that Cohen would commit to Petrillo, the attorneys asked Cohen to consider bringing them on board as well, because their purported relationship with Giuliani could serve to keep lines of communication open with President Trump’s legal team. Petrillo apparently opposed the idea of working in tandem, and Cohen ultimately rejected it, the sources said. The two attorneys never formally joined Cohen’s legal team but sent Cohen a bill for legal services, which he did not pay, the sources said.
I don’t think I would have paid them, either. According to those who have seen the invoice, they were charging Cohen for around a half dozen calls they made to Giuliani, and at least one in-person meeting with him.
I have said this several times, as someone who has followed the Mueller probe closely from the beginning, President Trump may ultimately have more to fear from the Southern District of New York than Robert Mueller.
The simple reason is that the Trump Organization has been a fixture in New York and New Jersey for many years. Donald Trump has deep, corrupted roots in the area, long known by locals, but only now put under the microscope that is the position as President of the United States.
He invited this scrutiny, and everything that has so long been a way of life for him will be the weight that sinks him.
The Southern District of New York prosecutors are now in possession of the legal bill along with logs of numerous calls and copies of emails between the attorneys and Cohen, the sources said. During a meeting with Cohen earlier this year, federal prosecutors in New York expressed interest in learning who paid the bill. Cohen said he did not know who, if anyone, did.
Cohen will soon begin a 3 year prison term for tax and bank fraud charges, giving false testimony to Congress, as well as the campaign finance law violations that arose from the payoff of Trump’s former mistresses.
He is a casualty of his connections to a corrupt man, but he will not be the only one to be brought down.
You can bet on that.