Lawyers representing Michael Cohen in a federal criminal investigation into his financial dealings may soon jump ship, ABC News reported Wednesday.
“A source representing this matter” told ABC that Stephen Ryan and Todd Harrison of McDermott, Will & Emery LLP are expected to end their representation of President Trump’s longtime fixer.
Sources also told ABC that Cohen is likely to cooperate with federal prosecutors. If it happens, Cohen’s cooperation could cause problems for Trump.
Shortly after the ABC News report appeared, the Wall Street Journal, too, reported that Cohen’s lawyers were set to leave the case. But the Journal added that Cohen hasn’t yet decided whether he’ll cooperate.
Cohen, Harrison and Ryan did not immediately respond to TPM’s requests for comment. To date, the lawyers haven’t filed anything in court suggesting they plan to end their representation.
Joanna Hendon, the attorney representing Trump in the privilege matter, also did not immediately respond to TPM’s requests for comment.
This move would come at a very sensitive time for Cohen, who is being investigated for a host of potential financial crimes. Cohen’s lawyers were given a Friday deadline to finish reviewing hundreds of thousands of documents seized from his premises by federal agents to determine which should be covered by attorney-client privilege.
If they miss the deadline, a government “taint” team uninvolved in the Cohen probe will take over the review, per a ruling by Judge Kimba Wood.
Cohen’s team had gone to court to prevent exactly that outcome from occurring, expressing concern that federal prosecutors would not make appropriate privilege designations. Wood and federal prosecutors have countered that the use of a taint team was standard practice in federal criminal investigations and would be capable of carrying out the task.
No replacement counsel for Cohen has yet been identified.
Ryan has been representing Cohen in the federal and congressional investigations into Russia’s election interference since last June, as well as the hush money case involving adult film star Stormy Daniels.
A person familiar with the legal discussions told the New York Times that Ryan’s break with Cohen was primarily related to the payment of his legal bills. The Trump campaign has paid out some $228,000 to McDermott, Will & Emery to cover Cohen’s legal fees, though it’s unclear exactly what legal work those payments funded.
Federal campaign finance law would likely bar the Trump campaign from funding Cohen’s legal defense in a personal matter like the probe into his financial dealings.
This post has been updated.