Pressure on Michael Cohen intensifies as Mueller stays focused on Trump attorney

WASHINGTON – Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, is facing mounting pressure from two active federal investigations, contending with skyrocketing legal bills and planning to change lawyers in the near future, according to people familiar with the situation.

Amid his escalating legal concerns, Cohen is feeling neglected by the president, his longtime patron for whom he has long professed his loyalty, the people said.

Cohen is under intensifying scrutiny from federal prosecutors in Manhattan who are examining his business practices, as well as special counsel Robert Mueller III, who is continuing to investigate episodes involving Cohen, according to a witness who testified in front of a grand jury in Washington last week.

Andrii Artemenko, a former member of the Ukrainian parliament, said in an interview that many of the questions he faced during several hours of testimony Friday were focused on his interactions with Cohen. Artemenko met with Cohen in January 2017 to discuss a back-channel peace initiative for Ukraine.

“I realized that Michael Cohen is a target” of special interest to Mueller, Artemenko told The Washington Post this week, days after he was questioned.

A spokesman for Mueller declined to comment.

The special counsel’s ongoing questions about Cohen’s activities indicate that Mueller remains intently focused on Trump’s attorney, even after referring a separate probe into Cohen’s business practices to federal prosecutors in Manhattan months ago.

The dual investigations of Cohen are fueling anxiety inside the White House. After working for a decade as Trump’s personal attorney, Cohen has extensive knowledge of the president’s personal dealings and the Trump family business.

The president’s allies are worried that prosecutors in Manhattan are attempting to build a criminal case against Cohen to push him to cooperate with the special-counsel probe – a prospect they see as potentially dire.

For his part, the Trump attorney has been frustrated by the lack of outreach by the president, whom Cohen has vowed to defend, according to people with knowledge of the situation.

Cohen, who is now in a dispute with his attorneys about some of his legal bills, plans to seek new representation soon, the people said. He wants to find a New York lawyer more familiar with the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan, they said.

Cohen declined to comment, referring questions to the attorney currently leading his defense, Stephen Ryan. Ryan, a Washington-based criminal defense lawyer who has represented Cohen in both of the federal investigations, did not respond to requests for comment.

Cohen has not been charged and has not indicated to associates whether he would take a plea deal and share information with prosecutors, according to a person familiar with his views.

But he is facing legal worries on two fronts.

In New York, federal investigators are investigating Cohen for possible bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations as they examine his efforts to squelch damaging information about Trump in the run-up to the 2016 election. A special master who was named to review possibly privileged materials seized from Cohen’s office and residences in April is scheduled to file a report Friday on the …read more

Source:: The Denver Post – Politics


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