Malacandra.me

This sure looks like witness tampering to me

This sure looks like witness tampering to me

by digby

.. but what do I know?

This strikes me as a big deal. Some unnamed attorneys with ties to Giuliani approached Cohen with a backdoor deal to stay on the Trump team:

In the weeks following the federal raids on former Michael Cohen’s law office and residences last April, President Donald Trump's former lawyer and confidant was contacted by two New York attorneys who claimed to be in close contact with Rudy Giuliani, the current personal attorney to Trump, according to sources with direct knowledge of the discussions.

The outreach came just as Cohen, who spent more than a decade advocating for Trump, was wrangling with the most consequential decision of his life; whether to remain in a joint defense agreement with the president and others, or to flip on the man to whom he had pledged immutable loyalty. The sources described the lawyers’ contact with Cohen as an effort to keep him in the tent.

Cohen generated a bounty of bold-faced headlines during his public testimony before Congress last week. He called the occupant of the Oval Office a racist, a con-man and a cheat and accused the president of TEXTcommitting at least one crime while in office.

MORE: EXCLUSIVE: Michael Cohen says family and country, not President Trump, is his 'first loyalty'
Yet for all the attention paid to what Cohen was willing to say about the president, his reluctance to answer a question about the last communications he had with Trump or someone acting on his behalf made news on its own. Cohen clammed up and claimed that federal prosecutors were actively probing that very 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.

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.

During the time of the conversations, Cohen and attorneys for the president and the Trump Organization were engaged in a cooperative, court-supervised effort to examine millions of files seized from the Cohen raids looking for items potentially covered by attorney-client privilege.

With that process ongoing, the New York attorneys talked up to Cohen the value of working with them because of their good relationship with Giuliani.
[...]
Cohen eventually left the joint defense agreement and hired Guy Petrillo, a white-collar defense lawyer in New York, to represent him as he sought to cooperate with Mueller’s probe and other federal and state investigations. The news of Petrillo’s hiring was first reported last June, but it had been rumored for weeks before that.

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.

The charges include fees for at least a half a dozen phone calls between the attorneys and Giuliani, according to two sources who have seen the invoice. One of the final entries is for a late June in-person meeting in New York between at least one of the attorneys and Giuliani. ABC News has not independently reviewed the bill.

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.


I think we probably know the answer to that don't we?

In my Salon column this morning I mentioned in passing the weird legal arrangement Cohen had with his lawyers and the legal expenses for the document review by the special master being paid by the president. That whole thing went sideways during this period and this explains some of it. They wanted to keep him on the team but I imagine he was rightfully suspicious that whatever they were promising to do for him wasn't exactly written in stone. He'd worked for Trump for ten years and knew he couldn't trust him as far as he could throw him. He's not the brightest bulb but nobody is that stupid.

It's a cliche that we don't know everything that's happened in this case but it happens to be true. There's always something ...