Trump distances himself from attorney Michael Cohen as government addresses raided materials
NEW YORK (AP) — President Donald Trump is distancing himself from Michael Cohen amid an FBI investigation into his longtime personal lawyer’s business dealings.
“I’ve always liked Michael. I haven’t spoken to Michael in a long time,” Trump said to reporters at the White House on Friday. Asked if Cohen, long among Trump’s most trusted fixers, was still his attorney, the president said no.
“No he’s not my lawyer anymore. But I’ve always liked Michael. And I think he’s a good person,” he said.
His comments came on a day when it became clear that a review of materials seized in raids on Cohen’s home and office in April won’t significantly slow a criminal investigation of his business dealings. The review is to determine which materials should be withheld from prosecutors because of attorney-client privilege.
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Barbara Jones, a former federal judge appointed by a judge to oversee the review, reported in a court filing that “substantial progress and diligent effort” by attorneys for Cohen, Trump and the Trump Organization meant that a deadline to finish the work by Friday should be extended 10 more days.
Cohen has not been charged with a crime.
In a court filing Friday, prosecutors said they had reconstructed about 16 pages of documents that had been found inside a shredder during the raid.
They also said they had recovered the equivalent of more than 700 pages of encrypted messages sent by secure applications on Cohen’s devices.
Earlier this week, it was reported that Cohen planned to find new lawyers — preferably recent federal prosecutors in Manhattan themselves — to represent him as the criminal probe continues.
Although some speculated that the development means Cohen is leaning closer to cooperating with prosecutors, it is common for people to change representation, particularly as their legal bills pile up.
On Thursday, his lawyers asked a judge in Los Angeles to stop California attorney Michael Avenatti from a “publicity tour” that has included over 100 television appearances since March. They called Avenatti’s appearances on behalf of his client, porn actress Stormy Daniels — whose real name is Stephanie Clifford — “malicious attacks” that could contaminate a jury pool.
Daniels has said she had sex with Trump in 2006 when he was married. Trump has denied it. Daniels has sued Trump and Cohen to invalidate a nondisclosure agreement that she signed days before the 2016 presidential election when she was paid $130,000.
A judge Friday indicated no ruling would occur on the request before July.