Even Michael Cohen‘s own attorney isn’t swearing to his client’s claims regarding the accuracy of the Steele dossier as it relates to Michael Cohen.
Cohen’s motion to show cause filed April 13 with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (“SDNY”) contains the following paragraph on page seven:
This arduous journey began for Mr. Cohen over 16 months ago with the publication of his name in the so-called Steele dossier. The references to Mr. Cohen in the Steele dossier are false and have been completely debunked. Nevertheless, because of those false allegations, Mr. Cohen has had to spend the last 16 months defending himself in front of numerous government investigatory agencies.
The motion was essentially Cohen’s argument for why he and his attorneys should get the first crack at determining which materials recently seized from his offices are protected by the attorney-client privilege–or, in the alternative, that anyone other than government prosecutors should take charge of making those determinations.
The quoted paragraph above appears in the motion’s “Statement of Fact” section. Typical practice holds that each assertion made in the “Statement of Fact” section contains a cited reference to a sentence or paragraph in the corresponding declaration section of the motion–which is almost always filed simultaneously. That is, each and every valid assertion made in a “Statement of Fact” section should be backed up by an attested assertion in an attorney’s signed declaration.
A signed declaration is a sworn affidavit containing assertions that attorneys sign off on. Such affidavits are official documents filed with courts and tend to show the extent of what an attorney is actually willing to argue on behalf of their client.
What’s weird is that while the rest of the Statement of Fact section cites attorney Todd Harrison‘s sworn declaration (as do other sections of the motion), this part does not.
For example, here’s the Cohen-Harrison paragraph in the “Statement of Fact” section immediately preceding the un-sourced paragraph regarding the Steele dossier:
On November 8, 2016, Mr. Trump was elected President of the United States. Id. ¶ 9. Mr. Cohen resigned from the Trump Organization on January 20, 2017. Id. ¶ 10. Following Mr. Cohen’s resignation from the Trump Organization, President Trump allowed Mr. Cohen to continue using the title, “Personal Attorney to President Donald J. Trump,” in his email signature block. Id. ¶ 10. Mr. Cohen has served as Mr. Trump’s personal legal counsel from at least 2006 to the present. Id. ¶ 11.
Notice that the end of each sentence contains a paragraph symbol (¶) and numerical value. This signals to the court that the assertions made in the “Statement of Fact” section are actually supported. Most of the rest of the assertions made in the Cohen-Harrison “Statement of Fact” section contain cited references to Harrison’s declaration. The Steele dossier paragraph is the only paragraph in the “Statement of Fact” section which does not contain a single reference to Harrison’s sworn affidavit.
In fact, one look at the declaration signed by Harrison shows that he doesn’t make any declarations about the Steele dossier at all.
Therefore, as national security journalist Marcy Wheeler noted:
Cohen would like Judge Kimba Wood to believe that the dossier has been debunked. But his lawyer is unwilling to stake his own legal reputation on the claim.
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