Yesterday’s headline on ABC News read: “Joint defense with Cohen over; experts hired to analyze Trump-Cohen tape: Giuliani.”
This may not have seemed like a very important news item but it actually is confirmation that Michael Cohen is cutting a plea deal with prosecutors and is ready to now “flip” on his former boss Donald Trump.
When Giuliani announced on ABC News on Sunday that the joint legal defense between Trump and Cohen has truly been severed it ended weeks of speculation. This is the final official legal move that Cohen had to make before he could enter into a formal plea agreement and start cooperating with prosecutors.
The announcement of Cohen’s intentions was actually made earlier in the month when he told George Stephanopoulos that he was planning to terminate his “joint defense agreement” but it hadn’t been made official yet. In order to make it official he had to hire new lawyers. And now Giuliani’s announcement is confirmation that Cohen has done that.
During Cohen’s July 2nd appearance on ABC’s Good Morning America he made very clear that he was planning to sever his joint legal defense with Donald Trump once he got his new criminal defense attorney in place. The process took a few weeks, and it now has happened.
Here’s the report yesterday from ABCNews.com:
“Giuliani has confirmed that the joint defense agreement between Trump and Cohen has ended. It was expected that they would stop sharing information and documents when Cohen retained new attorney Guy Petrillo in July, but Giuliani confirms that there has been no contact between the two teams.
“Usually you don’t discuss joint defense agreements, but I think it’s obvious there’s been so much public discussion that there isn’t one right now,” Giuliani said. “We wouldn’t consider it in our best interest to share confidential information with them and they would feel the same way.”
This is a huge new development because severing the joint defense agreement is what has to happen before anyone is able to make a plea bargain with prosecutors.
Michael Flynn and Rick Gates each did the same thing just days before they cut their plea deals with Robert Mueller.
Here is what a former federal prosecutor said to explain the significance of this move by Cohen that was announced by Giuliani:
“According to @abcnews, Michael Cohen will break his joint defense agreement with Trump when his new attorney starts. That’s a signal that he will actually flip, because deciding to flip is a typical reason to leave a joint defense agreement.”
“A joint defense agreement is a way for different defense teams in a government investigation to share information without losing attorney-client privilege. But they only work when the interests of the defense teams are aligned.”
“That’s because they rely on an exception that allows people who have a common interest to share info without waiving privilege. Typically joint defense agreements require each party to notify the others if they flip.”
“So leaving the joint defense agreement actually means something. The fact that Cohen’s lawyer hasn’t started yet may help explain the interview with @GStephanopoulos, which I doubt a lawyer would advise him to do.”
1/ According to @abcnews, Michael Cohen will break his joint defense agreement with Trump when his new attorney starts. That’s a signal that he will actually flip, because deciding to flip is a typical reason to leave a joint defense agreement. https://t.co/Gl4QDEDCLn
— Renato Mariotti (@renato_mariotti) July 2, 2018
Now we can look back on all that has transpired over the past week in the public eye and see that it makes sense. This is why Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani have been panicking. The leaked Trump-Cohen tape about the McDougal payoff, and the disclosure about Donald Trump’s knowledge and approval of the Trump Tower meeting were circumstantial evidence that Cohen was going to flip very soon.
Giuliani’s comments on television yesterday sealed the deal. There is no question now that Cohen is cooperating with prosecutors. There is no question that Cohen was convinced by his attorneys that cooperation is the only way out for him if he cares about his family and wants to avoid spending the rest of his life in prison.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.