US Attorney’s office to Michael Cohen: You’re hardly a lawyer

The president's personal attorney is now under criminal investigation

From left: Deputy US Attorney Robert Khuzami, Michael Cohen and Loews Regency Hotel
From left: Deputy US Attorney Robert Khuzami, Michael Cohen and Loews Regency Hotel

President Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen shouldn’t receive any special access to evidence against him that was confiscated in a raid at the Loews Regency Hotel, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District argued Friday. Part of their argument: Cohen isn’t actually much of a lawyer.

Cohen, in a request for a temporary restraining order, had attempted to limit the scope of records and correspondences investigators could gain access to, in part by asserting attorney-client privilege.

Here’s how the U.S. Attorney’s Office, under the direction of Deputy U.S. Attorney General Robert Khuzami, responded:

1) “The searches are the result of a months-long investigation into Cohen, and seek evidence of crimes, many of which have nothing to do with his work as an attorney, but rather relate to Cohen’s own business dealings.”

2) “It is neither apparent (i) that Cohen, in his capacity as an attorney, has many, or any, attorney-client relationships other than with President Donald Trump.”

3) “Cohen’s claim that he has confidential communications with multiple clients appears to be exaggerated. For example, Cohen has told at least one witness that he has only [one] client – President Trump.”

Then there’s even more shade, on Cohen’s relationship with the law firm Squire Patton Boggs (referred to as “Law Firm 1”), which had hired Cohen as part of a “strategic alliance” last year. According to the U.S. Attorney’s filing, Cohen was never really integrated into the firm in the first place and only brought five clients to it, for which there is no available evidence those clients were ever billed. (Squire Patton Boggs ended its relationship with Cohen after this week’s FBI raid.)

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Many sections in the U.S. Attorney’s Friday response to Cohen are redacted, including one passage that allegedly would “further [bely] the notion that Cohen is currently engaged in any significant practice of law.”

Cohen did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The FBI raided Michael Cohen’s legal office and his hotel room at the Loews Regency in Manhattan on Monday. They collected personal business records, including those tied to his taxi medallion holdings and documents related to his $130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels (real name: Stephanie Clifford), the Department of Justice said. The precise nature of the criminal investigation on Cohen is not entirely clear, but it began following a referral from the Special Counsel Robert Mueller who is investigating potential collusion between Russian nationals and the Trump campaign during the 2016 election. The Wall Street Journal reported that the investigation is mostly concerned with Cohen’s personal business dealings.

On Friday, the Journal reported that Cohen, a deputy finance chair for the Republican National Committee, arranged a $1.6 million hush payment for his RNC fundraising colleague, Elliot Broidy, who sought to silence a Playboy Playmate he had an affair with. Broidy, who chaired the Trump Victory Fund that drew millions from real estate developers and other businessmen, has resigned.

Cohen joined the Trump Organization as general counsel in 2006. He previously bought condominiums in several Trump properties, including at Trump World Tower in 2001, and those deals are what brought him into the Trump orbit.