Michael Cohen, the former personal attorney for President Donald Trump, has been disbarred, the New York courts announced on Tuesday.
The decision was announced in documents released by Manhattan’s Appellate Division, First Department and the Attorney Grievance Committee, The New York Post reported.
The judgement came as Cohen was behind closed doors in Washington D.C. testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee. He was seen checking his phone during a break in questioning.
Michael Cohen has been disbarred in New York
The news came as he is in Washington DC to testify before the Senate
Lawyers face automatic disbarment in New York for a felony conviction. In December, Cohen pleaded guilty to eight felony counts, including bank fraud, tax evasion and campaign violations.
He can file for reinstatement in seven years – or sooner if pardoned by the governor of New York – if he isn’t convicted of anything else in that time period.
But there is no guarantee the New York bar would reinstate him.
Lanny Davis, who’s serving as one of Cohen’s attorneys, told ABC News last week that Cohen was worried about how he would make a living after his three year jail sentence has been served.
Cohen got a two-month reprieve last week which delayed his prison reporting date until May 6.
Republican Sen. Susan Collins told reporters Cohen was receiving an ‘extensive grilling’ from the intelligence panel.
Cohen will offer the senators a document that he claims shows the president engaged in criminal conduct around the hush-money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, it was revealed Tuesday.
The document will refute a claim by Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani that Cohen used a $35,000 monthly retainer from the president as reimbursement for paying off Daniels, a source close to Cohen told Politico.
Giuliani has said Cohen used a monthly retainer made for legal services in reimbursement as repayment for the $130,000 given to Daniels in exchange for her silence.
The documents will show who signed the checks to Cohen, the Daily Beast reported.
Arrival: Michael Cohen arrived on Capitol Hill Tuesday for the first of three days of blockbuster hearings
Aide: Michael Cohen was accompanied by Lanny Davis, the long-term Clinton advisor who is acting as his personal attorney
Arrival: Michael Cohen arrived on on Capitol Hill at precisely the same time as Donald Trump, his former boss was touching down in Vietnam
Same time: Donald Trump arrived in Hanoi for a summit with Kim Jong Un exactly as the former fixer he has branded a liar arrived on Capitol Hill
Cohen pleaded guilty to violating campaign-finance laws by facilitating payments to Daniels.
Cohen will also discuss the BuzzFeed report that Trump ordered him to lie to Congress about the Trump Tower Moscow deal. The article earned a rare – if carefully worded – denial from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office.
‘He’ll explain exactly why he lied and how he came to lie,’ said the source told Politico.
Cohen arrived on Capitol Hill Tuesday morning to the flash of cameras lights and shouted questions but he didn’t say a word as he walked into the Senate hearing room with Lanny Davis, the former Bill Clinton advisor who is acting as his attorney, and begins the first of three days of hearings.
He arrived 30 minutes before his time before senators was set to begin and is expected to be behind closed doors all day.
Senators trickled into the hearing room after his arrival but few spoke about what they wanted to ask the president’s former fixer.
Some, however, offered hints at what they were looking for.
Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden told reporters outside the hearing room he’s interested in following the money when it comes to Cohen’s work on Trump Tower Moscow.
But one issue he wouldn’t touch was whether Cohen – who plead guilty to lying to Congress – can be trusted to tell the truth in this appearance.
‘I’ll leave it at that,’ Wyden said when asked that question.
Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich, as he entered the hearing room, said he was looking for ‘the truth.’
In his testimony, Cohen also intends to reveal information about Trump’s financial statements, an anonymous source told the network.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the ex-fixer would accuse Trump of using racist language, recount times when the president questioned the ‘intelligence’ and criticized the ‘lifestyle choices’ of black people.
The fixer-turned-felon will say he witnessed ‘lies, racism and cheating,’ it reported.
He was on his way to raise his hand before the Senate Intelligence Committee to kick off a three-day, back-to-back trio of appearances on Capitol Hill where he will face multiple grillings from lawmakers on his relationship with President Donald Trump and his guilty plea to lying to Congress.
Cohen’s closed-door testimony is a prelude to his public appearance on Wednesday before the House Oversight and Reform Committee, to be followed by a second private session on Thursday before the House Intelligence Committee.
Wednesday’s public hearing will overshadow the others merely by the presence of TV cameras, to which both Cohen and the lawmakers will be playing to as they engage in a verbal parley on a variety of issues, including the building of Trump Tower Moscow, the payoffs to women during the 2016 campaign, Trump’s business dealings, and donations to the president’s inaugural committee.
Lawmakers are also girding to ask him questions about a planned Moscow tower project that he pursued well into the 2016 presidential campaign. He plans to tell lawmakers Trump asked him about it ‘several times.’
He further plans to talk about Trump’s ‘lies, racism and cheating as a private businessman,’ according to the account.
Trump and his legal team have repeatedly branded Cohen as a liar, and say he cooperated with prosecutors and furnished false information to get a reduced jail sentence.
But one topic not the public agenda: Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and any possible collusion between Trump’s team and Moscow.
Oversight panel chairman Elijah Cummings coordinated with his counterpart on the House Intel panel, Adam Schiff, and the two agreed the Russia conversation will happen discussed behind closed doors at the intelligence session while Trump’s business dealings will be the focus of the public hearing, according to a memo released Sunday by the Oversight panel.
Lawmakers can dismiss the chairman’s guidance and ask whatever they chose, but Cohen’s attorney, Lanny Davis, also said his client cannot talk about the Russia probe in public.
Senators, meanwhile, are eager to have Cohen in their crosshairs on Tuesday.
‘I think the reason you have him back is, when somebody lies to Congress in an investigation like this, the questions you might have asked the next witness don’t get asked. Somebody you might have called doesn’t get called,’ Senate intelligence panel member Sen. Roy Blunt said Sunday on CBS’ ‘Face the Nation.’
However, Republicans are already preparing to cast doubts on Cohen’s credibility – one of Trump’s legal team’s major arguments against the president’s former personal attorney.
‘I don’t know that we believe him this time,’ Blunt noted.
Republicans will be just as hard on Cohen as Democrats, particularly those closed tied to the president.
Republican Reps. Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows, two of Trump’s staunches allies on Capitol Hill, sent a letter to Cohen’s attorneys last week saying they intend to press the president’s former personal lawyer on his questionable business dealings, his lies to Congress, his work for foreign entities, and even ‘the fake Women for Cohen social media initiative he commissioned.’
One person who won’t be in town for the show is President Trump, who jetted off to Vietnam on Monday for his second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. But he will have the ability to tweet even with the 12 hour time difference.
This week marks Cohen’s first time before lawmakers since he pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the timing of talks concerning the building of a Trump Tower Moscow during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Lawmakers have indicated that will be a major topic of interest.
‘Well, a great deal starting with why the false statements before our committee when he first appeared. Did they go beyond what he told us about Moscow Trump Tower into other areas as well?,’ House Intelligence panel chair Rep. Adam Schiff said on ABC’s ‘This Week’ on Sunday.
Democratic Rep. Jim Himes, who also sits on the Intelligence panel, said he wants to know the same.
‘Well, you know, Michael Cohen is going to jail for lying to my committee. So obviously, step one is to re-ask him the questions that he felt he needed to lie to us about, when he testified in the last Congress. So we’re going to want to get to the truth, allow him to correct the record. And then, of course, the question is, okay, now that we know the truth, what are the follow-ups? It’s going to be an interesting week in that regard,’ he said Sunday on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press.’
Democratic Reps. Elijah Cummings (left) and Adam Schiff (right) will chair Wednesday’s and Thursday’s House hearings respectively
Himes also said Cohen could be more forthcoming behind closed doors than in Wednesday’s public circus.
‘I don’t think he’s going to say a lot that is classified. But he may have some things that he doesn’t feel comfortable saying publicly that he then wants to say either to the Senate or to the House Intelligence Committees, in closed session,’ he said.
Last week, Cohen got a two-month reprieve from his deadline to report for his three years in jail, with a judge giving him until May 6. One of the reasons cited was his upcoming congressional testimony.
Cohen received a three-year sentence in December for bank and tax fraud, lying to Congress and violating campaign finance laws.
Even though Cohen can’t talk about in public what he told Robert Mueller in the 70 hours he spent talking to that team for the special counsel’s Russia investigation, he will speak publicly about his relationship with the president.
Cohen attorney Lanny Davis said last Tuesday his client will reveal how Trump is ‘bigoted,’ ‘treats people badly,’ and talk about he’s heard the president say disparaging things about black people behind closed doors.
‘I believe the issue in 2020 which Michael Cohen can speak to better than anyone is the man lacks character,’ Davis told ABC’s ‘The Investigation’ podcast. ‘He speaks in bigoted words in private, which Michael Cohen will tell you. He treats people badly. He has no moral character in defrauding people in his businesses, and going bankrupt, and taking cash out, and putting people out of work. He lacks the moral compass that we expect in our presidents.’
But Davis said Cohen will be able to talk about ‘what did you do for Mr. Trump for all those years and why.’
Trump’s legal team has already made their case against Cohen by painting him as an unreliable witness.
Both Trump’s lawyers and the president himself have pushed back against any comments Cohen may have made to Mueller or will make in public by labeling him as a rat and turn coat who can’t be believed.
Davis conceded that Cohen knows he has a ‘deep hole to climb out’ of in terms of credibility.
But he argued his client has seen the light and wants to make amends for his past work for the president.
‘He wouldn’t take a pardon if Trump pleaded with him to take it. Why? Because it would be dirty,’ Davis told ABC News.
Cohen has been cooperating with the special counsel’s probe of Russia’s role in the 2016 election. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York was the lead federal prosecutor earlier this year when Cohen pled guilty to eight counts, including tax fraud and campaign finance violations – that stemmed from the special counsel’s investigation.
Cohen also has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the timeline of conversations he had with Russian officials about building a Trump Tower Moscow as part of separate investigation by Mueller’s team.
He was sentenced to three years in prison and is free on bail until that time.
Cohen’s guilty pleas included a charge of lying to Congress about a Trump Organization real estate project that was slated for Moscow, Russia and discussed through the fall of 2016 while the president was running for office.
He testified in a closed congressional interview that the project he pursued on Trump’s behalf was abandoned by the time of the Iowa Caucuses in January 2016; that would be consistent with Trump’s ‘political messaging.’
Mueller later filed documents revealing Cohen said he discussed the proposal with Trump on multiple occasions and with members of the president’s family, later in the year – even after Trump became the Republican nominee for president.
Cohen said he lied out of loyalty to Trump.
Cohen also played a role in hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels (left) and former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal (right)
‘I made these misstatements to be consistent with Individual 1’s political messaging and out of loyalty to Individual 1,’ Cohen said at his plea hearing late last year.
‘Individual 1’ is Mueller’s name for Trump in the investigation.
Cohen was also the central figure in a plot to buy the silence of pornographic actress Stormy Daniels, who claimed that she had an affair with Trump in 2006.
Daniels signed a nondisclosure agreement in exchange for $130,000 from Cohen, a transaction that he admitted was a violation of campaign finance laws since it amounted to an illegally large contribution benefiting Trump’s White House hopes.
He said in court that Trump directed him to make the payment, suggesting the president was guilty of a crime.
In August he pleaded guilty to eight separate charges related to tax dodges, falsifying bank documents and the campaign finance violations involving Daniels and another woman, former Playboy magazine model Karen McDougal.
Cohen claims that at Trump’s request, he arranged for the publisher of The National Enquirer to pay McDougal – another self-described past Trump paramour – for the exclusive rights to her life story. The magazine never published anything, engaging in a practice known as ‘catch and kill’ in order to help Trump avoid new scandals in the final weeks of the 2016 campaign.
Trump has denied ever having a sexual relationship with either Daniels or McDougal.