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President Donald Trump’s longtime lawyer Michael Cohen just hired Lanny Davis, who served as former President Bill Clinton’s special counsel as he was under investigation, as the latest addition to his revamped legal team.
Davis’s hire was reported by The New York Times on Thursday. Times reporter Maggie Haberman tweeted that Davis told her he was retained by Cohen as he prepares for a legal and public relations “onslaught.”
“Like most of America, I have been following the matter regarding Michael Cohen with great interest,” Davis said in a statement to Haberman. “As an attorney, I have talked to Michael many times in the last two weeks. Then I read his words published on July 2, and I recognized his sincerity. Michael Cohen deserves to tell his side of the story — subject, of course, to the advice of counsel.”
Davis’s noting of July 2 is a reference to Cohen’s ABC News interview. In that conversation with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Cohen split with his old boss and fueled speculation that he could soon “flip” and cooperate with the government regarding the criminal investigation he’s at the center of in the Southern District of New York.
Cohen said he would “put family and country first” when considering what he should do regarding that criminal investigation. When Stephanopoulos pressed Cohen about his past vow to “take a bullet” for Trump, Cohen doubled down, saying: “To be crystal clear, my wife, my daughter, and my son and this country have my first loyalty.”
Cohen, who worked for Trump over the past decade, is the focus of an investigation into whether he violated campaign-finance laws or committed bank fraud, wire fraud, illegal lobbying, or other crimes. The FBI raided his home, his office, and his hotel room in April, seizing roughly 4 million documents from the lawyer.
‘He should have the attorneys who he has the most confidence in’
In June, Cohen hired Guy Petrillo as the latest lawyer representing him in the case after it was reported that Cohen was breaking up with existing his legal team. Petrillo, a partner at Petrillo Klein & Boxer, has extensive experience in the Southern District of New York, which is something Cohen reportedly sought. Experts told Business Insider Petrillo was the kind of lawyer a person would choose if he or she were seeking to cut a deal with prosecutors.
“Once I understand what charges might be filed against me, if any at all, I will defer to my new counsel, Guy Petrillo, for guidance,” Cohen told ABC News.
Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s outside counsel, told Business Insider that he made “nothing” of Cohen’s latest move to hire Davis, as well as his past couple weeks of maneuvering.
“He should have the attorneys who he has the most confidence in,” Giuliani said.
In the past few weeks, Cohen seemed to be sending Trump signals regarding whether he planned to cooperate with authorities.
In a resignation letter to the Republican National Committee, he publicly criticized Trump’s family separations at the US-Mexico border, and people close to him told The Wall Street Journal and CNN he was frustrated Trump wasn’t paying his legal bills — even suggesting Cohen was open to cooperating with the government and providing information on Trump.
Trump has distanced himself from Cohen, suggesting that the investigation has far more to do with Cohen’s business dealings than anything Cohen did for the president. Trump has also said he is not worried about Cohen giving the government anything damaging on him because he hasn’t done anything wrong.
ABC News also reported that once Cohen’s new legal team takes over the case, the joint defense agreement that allows lawyers of both parties to share information and documents will come to an end.
In late November, former national security adviser Michael Flynn notified Trump’s legal team that he would end a similar agreement. Roughly a week later he pleaded guilty in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation to lying to the FBI and agreed to cooperate with the Russia inquiry.
Davis and Cohen did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.