A federal court judge in New York Monday refused to let lawyers for President Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen review devices and documents obtained under a warrant from Cohen’s office, home and hotel room to ascertain how much of it falls under client-attorney privilege.
Judge Kimba Wood rebuffed an attempt by lawyers for Cohen and Trump to prevent prosecutors from going through the material but left the door open for a taint team or special master to review any sensitive material.
Calling the search warrant – executed during the investigation of the attorney’s role in the Stormy Daniels case and other activities involving wire fraud, campaign finance violations and bank fraud – likely “the most highly publicized” in “the history of recent American criminal jurisprudence,” Cohen’s lawyers had beseeched the court to let them review the material to ensure that client-attorney privilege is preserved.
“It is paramount that the review of Mr. Cohen’s data and documents be handled in such a way as to eliminate, as much as possible, even the ‘appearance of unfairness,'” they had written in a letter to the court.
Prosecutors in the Office of the U.S. Attorney in New York had promised to use a “filter team” of lawyers separate from prosecutors in what one, Thomas McKay, called the “fast-moving investigation” of Cohen.
Prosecutors tried to minimize the effects seizing the material will have on Cohen and his clients, noting that in 2017-2018 the lawyer worked primarily for the president. Wood pressed Cohen in court Monday on his clientele, who he eventually said included Trump, former RNC official Elliott Broidy, and Fox personality Sean Hannity, before ruling to let his lawyers review the seized assets.