Published: Tue, April 17, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Trump lawyer Michael Cohen back in court Monday

Trump lawyer Michael Cohen back in court Monday

Cohen, Trump's fiercely loyal and pugnacious lawyer, was in court to ask a judge to limit the ability of federal prosecutors to review documents seized as part of a criminal investigation.

The FBI raided his office and home in Manhattan earlier this month and seized documents, cell phones and recordings Cohen took of his conversations.

Cohen's lawyers were required by a federal judge in NY to disclose the names of his clients Monday as part of an argument over attorney-client privilege and how it applies to records seized from Cohen last week by the FBI.

The FBI has not yet signaled what law Cohen has broken but only that he is under investigation for his business activities.

"The appearance of fairness and justice is compromised by the government's use of the its own personnel to review potentially privileged material", Hendon wrote.

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On Monday morning, Mr Cohen's lawyers said in a statement that he had 10 clients from 2017-2018, but only offered "direct legal advice or dispute resolution" to three of them. It's supposed to prevent "privileged" information from being used against the client.

Cohen initially became a household name once details emerged that he had paid porn star Stormy Daniels $130,000 in the weeks leading up to the 2016 election. Then there's a feedback loop between Fox News and the president, in which he promotes the network's arguments against the FBI investigation and the investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and Fox News, in turn, reports on the president's response. In particular, documents seized targeted information surrounding Cohen's arrangements with Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, who allegedly were paid off to keep quiet about an affair with President Trump. In a footnote in its filing, the prosecutors expressed doubt that any communications between Trump and Cohen regarding a payoff to Daniels before the election would be covered under attorney-client privilege.

In them, they found that Cohen had done "little to no legal work, and that zero emails were exchanged with President Trump". U.S. president is outraged by the Federal Bureau of Investigation raid on his lawyers tweeting, "Attorney-Client privilege is now a thing of the past". The guidelines say that a warrant is justified when an attorney is a "suspect, subject or target" of an investigation or 'is believed to be in possession of contraband or the fruits or instrumentalities of a crime'.

The filing asks a Manhattan federal judge to block the taint team's review until Trump, Cohen, and their attorneys can go over the documents to remove "materials over which the president asserts privilege". "I have may lawyers and they are probably wondering when their offices and even homes, are going to be raided".

At issue is exactly who gets to look at Cohen's seized documents and devices before they are turned over to prosecutors. "Attorney client privilege is dead", he exclaimed. Cohen's lawyer is asking for the lawyers themselves to review the material or a "special master" to decide what is relevant to the case, and Hendon is concerned about a taint team or however the material is handled.

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