World

Trump says Michael Cohen is 'not my lawyer anymore'

U.S. President Donald Trump is distancing himself from attorney Michael Cohen, who is facing an FBI investigation of his business dealings. Prosecutors in New York said they are still processing material seized from Cohen in an April raid.

President distances self from embattled attorney as raid documents are analyzed

Donald Trump told reporters on Friday that Michael Cohen is no longer his lawyer. (Yana Paskova/Getty Images)

U.S. President Donald Trump is distancing himself from attorney Michael Cohen, who is facing an FBI investigation of his business dealings.

"I've always liked Michael. I haven't spoken to Michael in a long time," Trump said to reporters at the White House on Friday. Asked if Cohen, long among Trump's most trusted fixers, was still his attorney, the president said no.

"No, he's not my lawyer anymore. But I've always liked Michael. And I think he's a good person," he said.

Prosecutors in New York said in a court filing later Friday that they are still processing material seized from Cohen in an April raid.

Investigators haven't charged Cohen with any crime, but have said publicly that they are looking into allegations involving fraud and Cohen's personal business dealings.

Agents seized paper files, computerized documents and phones from Cohen's home, safety deposit box and office in April.

In their court filing Friday, prosecutors said they had reconstructed about 16 pages of shredded documents that had been found inside a shredder during the raid.

They also said that they had recovered the equivalent of more than 700 pages of encrypted messages sent by secure applications on Cohen's devices.

A judge had set Friday as a deadline for Cohen's lawyers to identify documents they believe are protected by attorney-client privilege.

Prosecutors agreed to extend that deadline by 10 days, if the judge approves.

Cohen loses gag order bid

Also on Friday, Cohen lost his bid for an emergency gag order to stop Michael Avenatti, a lawyer for adult film actress Stormy Daniels, from maligning him in frequent media appearances.

In a brief order, U.S. District Judge James Otero in Los Angeles said Cohen had not shown he would face "immediate, irreparable injury" without an immediate restraining order.

The judge also admonished Cohen in a footnote, saying such requests "throw the system out of whack" by creating more work for the court, forcing adversaries to respond in a hurry and allowing some litigants to "cut in line" ahead of others.

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Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, is suing Cohen and Trump to get out of an agreement under which Cohen paid her $130,000 US not to discuss an alleged sexual encounter she had with Trump. The president has denied having sex with her.

Otero did not decide whether a restraining order should eventually be granted. He gave Avenatti until June 25 to formally respond to Cohen, who can reply by July 2.

"Mr. Avenatti either needs to respect and observe the Code of Professional Conduct [for lawyers] or remove himself from this case," Cohen's lawyer Brent Blakely said in an email.

A separate hearing in Daniels' case is scheduled for June 21.

The case is Clifford v Trump et al, U.S. District Court, Central District of California, No. 18-02217.

With files from Reuters