Michael Cohen just made a move that Michael Flynn made days before sealing a deal with Mueller, and he could be 'preparing the way to flip' on Trump

  • President Donald Trump's longtime lawyer Michael Cohen will soon end a joint defense agreement with the president.
  • Former national security adviser Michael Flynn did the same just days before he reached an agreement with the special counsel Robert Mueller.
  • A former federal prosecutor told Business Insider the move "makes complete sense in the world where Michael Cohen flips."


President Donald Trump's longtime lawyer Michael Cohen will soon end a joint defense agreement with the president, ABC News reported Monday.

That would echo a move from former national security adviser Michael Flynn just days before he reached an agreement with the special counsel Robert Mueller.

Many legal experts consider this the latest sign that Cohen, who is under federal criminal investigation, is readying to "flip" and cooperate with the government.

"Michael Cohen is preparing the way to flip on POTUS," said Mitchell Epner, an attorney at Rottenberg Lipman Rich who was previously an assistant US attorney for the District of New Jersey. 

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U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen exits a hotel in New York City, U.S., April 11, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Michael Cohen, personal attorney for U.S. President Donald Trump, arrives to appear before Senate Intelligence Committee staff as the panel investigates alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen drives after leaving his hotel in New York City, U.S., April 11, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Attorney Michael Cohen arrives at Trump Tower for meetings with President-elect Donald Trump on December 16, 2016 in New York.

(BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)

Michael Cohen, personal attorney for U.S. President Donald Trump, talks to reporters as he departs after meeting with Senate Intelligence Committee staff as the panel investigates alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, President-elect Donald Trump's choice for National Security Advisor, Michael Cohen, executive vice president of the Trump Organization and special counsel to Donald Trump, and former Texas Governor Rick Perry talk with each other in the lobby at Trump Tower, December 12, 2016 in New York City. President-elect Donald Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet and other high level positions for the new administration.

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 19: Michael Cohen, center, a personal attorney for President Trump, leaves Hart Building after his meeting with the Senate Intelligence Committee to discuss Russian interference in the 2016 election was postponed on September 19, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Attorney Michael Cohen arrives to Trump Tower for meetings with President-elect Donald Trump on December 16, 2016 in New York.

(BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's personal attorney arrives with his attorney, Stephen M. Ryan to speak with reporters after meeting with Senate Intelligence Committee staff on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

Retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, White House national security adviser-designate, from left, Michael Cohen, executive vice president of the Trump Organization and special counsel to Donald Trump, and Rick Perry, former governor of Texas, speak in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, U.S., on Monday, Dec. 12, 2016. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he had the 'highest confidence' in the intelligence community, in sharp contrast to President-elect Donald Trump's attack on the CIA after reports it found that the Russian government tried to help him win the presidency.

(Albin Lohr-Jones/Pool via Bloomberg)

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's personal attorney, looks on as his attorney (not pictured) delivers a statement to reporters after meeting with Senate Intelligence Committee staff on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

Attorney Michael Cohen arrives to Trump Tower for meetings with President-elect Donald Trump on December 16, 2016 in New York.

(BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)

UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 19: Michael Cohen, center, a personal attorney for President Trump, leaves Hart Building after his meeting with the Senate Intelligence Committee to discuss Russian interference in the 2016 election was postponed on September 19, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen exits a hotel in New York City, U.S., April 11, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen is pictured leaving a restaurant in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 10, 2018. REUTERS/Amir Levy
Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's personal attorney, arrives with his attorney, Stephen M. Ryan, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., October 25, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen is pictured arriving at his hotel in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 10, 2018. REUTERS/Amir Levy
Michael Cohen, personal attorney for U.S. President Donald Trump, departs after meeting with Senate Intelligence Committee staff as the panel investigates alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
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"Ending the joint defense agreement with POTUS and the Trump Organization makes no sense in the world where Michael Cohen is going to fight," he told Business Insider. "It makes complete sense in the world where Michael Cohen flips."

ABC News reported that once Cohen's new legal team, headlined by attorney Guy Petrillo, takes over the case, the joint defense agreement that allowed lawyers of both parties to share information and documents will come to an end.

In June, Cohen hired Petrillo, a partner at Petrillo Klein & Boxer who has extensive experience in the Southern District of New York. 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.

Michael FlynnJonathan Ernst/Reuters

In late November, Flynn notified Trump's legal team that he would end a similar agreement. Roughly a week later, he pleaded guilty in the Mueller investigation to lying to the FBI and agreed to cooperate with the Russia inquiry.

Cohen, who worked for Trump over the past decade, is the focus of an investigation in the Southern District of New York into whether he violated campaign-finance laws or committed bank fraud, wire fraud, illegal lobbying, or other crimes. The FBI seized roughly 4 million documents from the lawyer in the April raids.

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.

Cohen, meanwhile, split with the president in the ABC News interview, saying he would "put family and country first" when considering what he should do regarding that criminal investigation. When ABC's George Stephanopoulos pressed Cohen about his past vow to "take a bullet" for Trump, Cohen doubled down.

"To be crystal clear, my wife, my daughter, and my son, and this country have my first loyalty," he said.

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