Michael Cohen Defense Team Unraveling, Sources Say

MANHATTAN (CN) – Suggesting the imminence of a plea deal for embattled Trump attorney Michael Cohen, sources told ABC News and The Associated Press on Wednesday that Cohen’s attorneys are withdrawing their services.

Michael Cohen’s attorneys Todd Harrison, right, and Joseph Evans arrive at court on April 13, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Stephen Ryan and Todd Harrison of the Washington and New York firm McDermott, Will & Emery LLP have been representing Cohen since June 2017.

Though the FBI did not raid Cohen’s home, hotel room and office until this past April, Cohen reportedly tapped Ryan last year as the Russia probe by Special Counsel Robert Mueller intensified.

News that Cohen’s attorneys are withdrawing broke this morning, two days before a deadline set by U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood to finish reviewing Cohen’s seized materials for attorney-client privilege designations.

At Cohen’s last hearing on May 30, Ryan told Wood his team was working around the clock and moving “heaven and earth” to get items to the court-appointed special master, Barbara Jones, who makes the final call on whether items are privileged.

As of last week Jones had found only 162 of 292,409 seized items off-limits in the case and overruled privilege assertions by Cohen, the Trump Organization and Trump in only three cases. If Cohen’s team does not complete its initial review by Friday, Wood said, the remaining documents would be turned over to a government “taint team” unconnected with the case.

Representatives for McDermott, Will & Emery did not return emails or phone calls seeking comment.

A representative at Ryan’s office said he was not taking any calls, but Ryan also has not responded to an email. Harrison did not immediately return a phone call for comment.

This combination photo shows, from left, President Donald Trump, attorney Michael Cohen and adult film actress Stormy Daniels. Cohen has been ordered to appear in federal court in New York, Monday, April 16, 2018, for arguments over last week’s raid of his home and office. The raid sought information on a $130,000 payment made to porn actress Stormy Daniels, who alleges she had sex with a married Trump in 2006. (AP Photo)

Months before federal prosecutors here confirmed that Cohen is the subject of a criminal investigation, former Trump campaign staffer Rick Gates entered his guilty plea as part of the Mueller probe after his attorneys withdrew from the case.

The investigation of Cohen stems in part from a payment the lawyer made in 2016 to porn actress Stormy Daniels, who claims that she had a one-night stand with Donald Trump years earlier, before his run for president.

ABC News sources said that Cohen, now lacking legal representation in these proceedings, is likely to cooperate with federal prosecutors.

Michael Avenatti, a Los Angeles-based attorney for Daniels, tweeted Wednesday that the withdrawal of Ryan from Cohen’s case spells “disaster for Mr. Cohen and Mr. Trump.”

“I wonder how much Mr. Ryan and his colleagues at McDermott Will & Emery soaked Mr. Cohen for before they jumped ship,” another Avenatti tweet says. “I estimate $350k-$500k a week (not a typo). I guess that wasn’t enough to buy loyalty to their client when the going got tough. #Basta”

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