A federal judge in New York allowed Trump to be a party to Cohen’s effort.
Federal prosecutors were slated to form a “privilege team,” also known as a “taint team,” which will review which of the seized materials are considered to be privileged through attorney-client privilege and which materials can be turned over to the potential trial prosecutors and federal agents. That team is known as the investigative team.
Trump’s attorney, Joanna Hendon, who was hired last week, says she wants to prohibit the taint team, “from providing the Investigative Team with (a) any materials over which the President asserts a privilege without objection from the taint team, and (b) any materials that the Court rules are privileged over the taint team’s objection.”
She added that the “staggering amount of attention trained on this investigation” and “fevered” atmosphere makes it unreasonable to expect that prosecutors could perform a privilege review in a manner necessary to safeguard the interests of the president.
The latest filing could muddle an already complicated hearing scheduling for Monday in the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood, who is presiding over the restraining order proceedings. Wood is expected to have all the parties in court, including Cohen, at 2:00 p.m. when the hearing resumes.
Cohen, his attorneys, Trump’s attorneys, federal prosecutors, and Stormy Daniels with her attorney are all expected to be in court Monday.
At the hearing, Cohen will continue his attempt to have a restraining order placed against the U.S. for materials taken from his office and residences following a court-authorized search a week ago. Cohen has been fighting since late last week to have a federal judge issue the temporary restraining order preventing the so-called “privilege team” from going through his documents, phones, and electronic media.
Cohen has said he wants to review the materials and determine what documents are protected from investigators’ eyes by attorney-client privilege. If that’s not allowed, Cohen said he wants a special master appointed as an independent third party to review the materials.
In court filings, Cohen says that documents pertaining to himself and the Trump Organization have already been turned over to special counsel Robert Mueller’s office.
The specific focus of the investigation and possible federal crimes have not been disclosed by the U.S. Attorney’s office, but in a filing on Friday they do confirm Cohen is under federal criminal investigation.
Prosecutors appeared to have redacted the section of the document that explains what crime they believe Cohen has committed, but they said the “crimes being investigated involve acts of concealment.“
On Friday, lawyers for Trump and Cohen argued before Wood that they believe some of the materials seized from Cohen during an FBI raid this week are protected by attorney-client privilege.
Federal prosecutors said in a court filing Friday the investigation that led them to raid Cohen’s offices “largely centers on his personal business dealings” and has been going on for months.
Federal agents have already reviewed multiple email accounts maintained by Cohen as part of an ongoing grand jury investigation, according to the filing. That review has found that “Cohen is in fact performing little to no legal work, and that zero emails were exchanged with President Trump,” prosecutors said in the filing.
FBI agents on Monday seized documents and devices in raids on Cohen’s office and hotel room, seeking information about payments made to porn actress Stephanie Clifford, who performs under the name Stormy Daniels, shortly before the 2016 election.
Daniels alleges she had an affair with Trump in 2006. The White House and Cohen have denied that claim.
Cohen, 51, has denied wrongdoing. Trump has blasted the raid, calling it “an attack on our country” while reiterating his view that Mueller’s investigation is a “witch hunt” and a “disgrace.”
Trump last week broke his silence on the Daniels case, saying he was not aware of the payment made by Cohen to the porn actress just days before he was elected. The president also said he did not know where the $130,000 came from. Cohen has claimed it came out of his own pocket.