Robert Costello releases 300 Michael Cohen-related emails

In an attempt to undercut the Manhattan DA’s key witness in the Trump case, former Michael Cohen legal adviser Robert Costello on Wednesday shared with NBC News hundreds of emails about Trump's former “fixer.”

The emails, which Costello said he handed over to Manhattan prosecutors this week, show the former federal prosecutor has given a consistent account of his dealings with Cohen over the years but do not appear to include any kind of smoking gun pertaining to the hush money probe.

After he testified before the grand jury Monday, Costello told reporters that prosecutors “cherry-picked six emails” from the 321 he said he had turned over to the DA's office. “Of course they took them out of context,” said Costello, who portrayed Cohen as a liar in his testimony. “You need to see each and every email,” he continued, adding, “There must be 100 instances in those documents of him lying to us.”

The bulk of the emails, however, are not exchanges between Costello and Cohen; instead, many are messages Costello sent to Cohen that went unanswered, as well as messages from Costello and other lawyers complaining that Cohen was not returning their calls or emails or forwarding one another and Cohen news stories about his case.

Among the exchanges in which Cohen engaged with Costello are messages showing he appearing to string Costello and his firm along, reassuring them he wanted them on his legal team while repeatedly postponing signing a retainer agreement. No agreement was ever signed, and Cohen denied in later emails that he’d told Costello he wanted him on his legal team, despite earlier emails to the contrary.

In the emails, Cohen also denied to Costello reports that he was going to “flip” on Trump — which he later did. He pleaded guilty in 2018 to criminal charges that included arranging hush money payments on Trump's behalf, including the one being investigated by the DA, and lying to Congress.

The only message that appeared to be directly relevant to the Manhattan DA's case was from December 2018, when Costello emailed a colleague saying Cohen had once told him “he had nothing on The President.”

Costello told reporters Monday that he testified about Cohen's former stance in his appearance before the grand jury, where he waived immunity. Costello said he did so because he felt he didn't need immunity because he was telling the truth.

The six emails Costello said the DA shared with the grand jury appeared to show Costello acting as a middleman for another of his clients, Trump ally Rudy Giuliani. On April 19, 2018, two days after Costello first met with Cohen, Costello told him Giuliani would be joining Trump’s legal team. “I told you my relationship with Rudy, which could be very very useful for you,” Costello wrote.

On April 21, 2018, Costello wrote to Cohen that he’d spoken with Giuliani and that he was “thrilled” Costello was joining his team, news Giuliani allegedly told him he’d pass on to Trump. “He said thank you for opening this back channel of communication and asked me to keep in touch,” Costello wrote of Giuliani.

Weeks later, after Cohen hadn’t returned several of his calls and emails, Costello wrote to another lawyer at his firm, saying, “Our issue is to get Cohen on the right page without giving him the appearance we are following instructions from Giuliani or the President.”

According to notes Costello shared with NBC News from a meeting he had with federal prosecutors in Manhattan in April 2019, the back channel reference meant “just a channel, not secretive.” The interview, which was consistent with how he described his grand jury testimony, was voluntary and could have exposed Costello to criminal charges had he lied.

Costello said he shared the same notes with Trump’s lawyers and the DA’s office.

Cohen pushed back Monday against several of Costello’s claims, including that he’d signed a waiver of attorney-client privilege, which would allow Costello to speak publicly about their interactions. Cohen said on MSNBC, “I don’t recall waiving anything.”

“If there was something that was signed, perfect. I will own the fact that I’m making a mistake. But I don’t recall signing” such a waiver, he added.

Costello shared a copy of the waiver Cohen signed, dated Feb. 7, 2019.

Costello and a lawyer for Cohen did not immediately respond to a request for comment early Wednesday evening.