Apr 15, 2018, 11:10 PM ET

Trump attorney fighting to keep government from reading raided Cohen material


Citing a “vital interest” in attorney-client privilege, President Donald Trump formally asked a federal judge Sunday night to allow his legal team to review records and recordings seized from his personal attorney in a raid last week before the government is allowed to read them.

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“The privilege-holder should be permitted to review the materials for privilege in the first instance,” Trump’s attorney Joanna Hendon wrote ahead of a Monday afternoon hearing.

Hendon called the raid on Michael Cohen’s home, office, hotel room, safety deposit box and cellphones “disquieting,” and said the president should be allowed to “review for privilege those seized documents that relate to him.”

A hearing Friday in Manhattan federal court was put on hold until Monday after Hendon intervened and requested additional time.

Federal prosecutors revealed in court documents obtained by ABC News last week that they have already secretly obtained search warrants for various different email accounts associated with Cohen and found no messages between him and the president. They also argued their internal filter team can properly sift through the material.

Trump has made clear he does not trust the federal prosecutors’ “taint team” to do the job. A taint team is a group of people who help determine what falls under attorney-client privilege and should not be shared with investigators. It's standard when searching a lawyer's office.

“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.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump makes remarks as he speaks to the nation, announcing military action against Syria for the recent apparent gas attack on its civilians, at the White House, on April 13, 2018, in Washington.Mike Theiler/Pool/Getty Images
President Donald Trump makes remarks as he speaks to the nation, announcing military action against Syria for the recent apparent gas attack on its civilians, at the White House, on April 13, 2018, in Washington.

While Trump will not be in court Monday, Cohen has been ordered to appear so he can answer questions about his legal practice. It is likely, then, Cohen will come face to face with the adult film actress he has paid off. Stormy Daniels plans to attend the hearing, her attorney Michael Avenatti told CNN this weekend.

Cohen has been under investigation for months “for criminal conduct that largely centers on his personal business dealings,” federal prosecutors revealed in court documents.

Cohen has not been charged with anything. He has not responded to news he is under investigation, declining to comment when contacted by ABC News.

An attorney for Cohen, Todd Harrison, argued that either he or an independent, court-appointed third party should review what was seized from last week’s searches in advance of federal prosecutors having access.

“The government’s unnecessary seizure carries a substantial risk of infringing upon the attorney-client privilege and attorney-work product doctrine,” Harrison said. “This matter is particularly sensitive and unique because, as the government is well aware, the president of the United States is one of Mr. Cohen’s clients.”

News - Trump attorney fighting to keep government from reading raided Cohen material

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  • John Galt

    So Hannity is denying he was a client of Cohen. Cohen must have done something really bad for Hannity, and knows it needs to be protected. Hannity is saying, I didn't pay him or ask him to do anything. Oh boy, the dirt here isn't dirt it's manure.

  • Real Deal McNeal

    The late night shows haven't started taping yet. Time to add the Cohen/Hannity connection into the monologues!

  • P bis

    So good ole Sean Hannity was a client too. More sexual harassment from Fox? What a clan. Americans should rise up against a corporation owned by the Murdoch family who have no interest in America, who defame anyone in the name of politics, and hurt and debase women. The Murdoch family needs to take their business somewhere else. They are all about greed.

  • chopperdaddy

    Annnnd... Hannity is/was a Cohen client as well.

  • dmom05

    I don't find the raid on Cohen disquieting at all. Our leaders and people in powerful positions need to be held accountable more than anyone. If we can't trust our leaders, what will come of us?

  • thebobbob

    After decades of using the law to bully tenants, intimidate women and break contracts with contractors and suppliers the Trumpets seem offended that The Law might actually pertain to them. Payback is a beeetch!

  • Life's a River

    Trump especially wants to see what was in the hard drive labeled "Yikes!!".

  • just saying

    Haven't heard from his boys lately.

  • MandalayBay328

    A guilty man running scared! Clearly he knows there's an @ssload of information in there to take him (and most likely a gross amount of other people) down. An innocent man would not act in such a manner.

  • Sharon Durr

    Since no one else has said it, I will! Looks like Crooked Cohen (thought I would start labeling people like dumpy dummy Donnie does) is not getting any sleep. He looks haggard and tired just like his client! I suggest he go seek some help immediately before he gets seriously sick. As for Donnie, I hope he doesn't seek help. The sooner he croaks, the better! These two disgust me - just like their moronic supporters!

  • baxterboy

    Everyone in America knew of Trump's disgraceful unethical and immoral character and still elected him. Thus any guilty outcomes in all of this will have zero impact on his electability and most probably his presidential term.
    And while many deplore the depths America has sunk, the only difference between the ethics and morals of Trump and 'career' politicians is that we know about Trump's.
    There are, of course, exceptions to this rule, like Jimmy Carter, but as we witnessed the power universe of politics annihilates all those with any semblance of ethics and morality.

  • John Murray

    "They also argued their internal filter team can properly sift through the material. "
    They don't even grasp the problem here. NO ONE in the government is supposed to be reading ANYTHING that goes on between an attorney and their client - period. This is one of those protected rights that is once again being gutted by an act like this. Attorney client privilege does not mean the government gets to read all of your attorney's noted and then decide which ones they can or cannot use at trial. Reading them in and of itself is a violation of the attorney client privilege. I don't like it when they can't do this to an attorney that represents a criminal who murdered someone or a drug kingpin, but I also accept that it has to apply to everyone otherwise it is an empty right.

  • mollydtt

    Giving the person being investigated for criminal wrongdoing the privilege of reviewing what they deem okay to provide to the court seems bizarre from every possible standpoint.

  • rightened

    This is where the judge needs to say, flat-out, "NO."

  • Mari Marigold

    Follow the money; it's what will take trump down if anything does. Cohen's recent change in attitude and demeanor is serious business. Money laundering.

  • Keith

    Just to make sure I have this clear, Trump wants to review material for attorney-client privilege BEFORE the feds do? He expects the feds to simply trust him to fairly evaluate everything and turn over what isn't covered by attorney-client privilege, even if it makes him look bad?

    This guy obviously is convinced that everyone is as stupid as he is. It would be hilarious if he weren't currently occupying the Oval Office. That he is makes it far from funny.

    He wants to be emperor, and his complete lack of understanding of how our government works is why he doesn't understand why he CAN'T be emperor.

  • THEFred

    Your honor, my client and I object to investigators looking at the evidence!

    Meanwhile, brain-dead Trump cultists are saying "Duhhh....Trump keeps saying 'No Collusion!" so there must be no evidence of collusion!"

    So why does Trump keep trying so desperately to obstruct justice?

  • Rafterman00

    Even Trump lap dog Gowdy said if you're innocent, act like it.

    Yet Chump keeps doing the exact opposite of that.

  • Stephanie Tribuna

    YUGE delay tactics.

  • Rafterman00

    What is Trump so terrified of?

  • Abbey

    And trump just pardoned Scooter Libby who was convicted of lying to the FBI. Gee, I wonder what kind of message he was trying to send to anyone that may be questioned by the FBI, in the wake of the raid on Cohen's office? Further obstruction. His attorneys can see the seized material as part of the discovery process, when he is formally charged.

  • considerthis

    The argument that the FBI taint team cannot be trusted to separate privileged from non-privileged material should be examined, but I doubt it will hold up.
    The judge considering this question should first ask Cohen's lawyer to provide evidence from past cases where it is clear the taint team was not up to the job. I doubt they will find much to support the claim.
    But even if the judge found merit in the argument, there is a fail safe.
    Let's say some material that should be privileged, makes it through the gate. Any attempt to use it in a prosecution could be struck down by a judge during discovery.

  • mollydtt

    Trump's tweeting alone will make everything admissible.

  • @ Clown Parade

    Trump takes on his own Justice Dept.You really couldn't have written a script like this for a tv series. No one would have found it believable.

  • mollydtt

    Trusting the Trump team to be fair and impartial is a laugh. I'm sure that tactic won't fly.
    Trump must feel there is so much to hide that stalling and delay is his only weapon now.

  • my2cents314

    So Cohen and the Dotard are requesting that they first review all of the seized records, and if they find any records that show wrongdoing, they will then pass these records to the prosecutors. Seems like a reasonable request, no?

    This is so much like when Richard Nixon offered to have the tapes reviewed and would turn over any recordings that showed anything that was illegal.

    Wow, how history is repeating itself.

  • WorkingClass

    “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. -- Actually, only the government's use of personnel can ensure fairness and justice. Letting Trump or his lawyers pick a team would be unfair and unjust.

  • weallhaveone

    So begins the standard Cheeto stalling tactics.

  • Prophet With Honor

    If you were the lawyer for a corrupt individual would you keep proof that could be used against you?

  • krussell25

    As soon as Cohen realizes he's been caught, he will have to decide if he wants make a deal, or hope Trump will pardon everything.

  • ogrot

    I'm actually sort of surprised that Cohen's motions written by a cheaper and less experienced attorney are more reasonable than Trump's regarding review of communications. Cohen is arguing that the communications ought to be set aside to a magistrate that can review them with him before turning them over to investigators. He wants to be his own taint team in cooperation with a judge. They argue the justice department cannot be trusted to be impartial etc. I don't think it will fly but it's in the realm of reason. Trump's lawyers are asking that all of it be turned over to Trump's administration for him to determine what is privileged. I'm pretty sure the answer will be no after the judge is finished laughing.

  • John Galt

    Hey trump, next time Call Saul if you need a corrupt attorney.

  • flnycus

    Nothing to hide, nothing to worry about.
    Basically DT is saying, a Dr or Attorney can be protected from criminal investigations if they did a crime just because they have clients?! LOL.
    Noone is above US Law.

  • Bill Toone

    Cohen is only a "tough guy" when hiding behind Trump. And Trump is only a "tough guy" hiding behind his money and his lawyers. Get grand jury indictments for each provable crime and watch them both crumble.

  • ryanwiwb

    This ought to be fun later today in the courtroom.

  • P bis

    The old adage "You sleep with dogs, you get fleas", never rang truer. Cohen's life is doo-doo forever. Trump will never come to his aid.

  • darkest_star

    "if you have done nothing wrong, then you've got nothing to hide." is that how they say it? lol

  • Mari Marigold

    Continued -- The New Yorker

    The narrative that will become widely understood is that Donald Trump
    did not sit atop a global empire. He was not an intuitive genius and
    tough guy who created billions of dollars of wealth through
    fearlessness. He had a small, sad operation, mostly run by his two
    oldest children and Michael Cohen, a lousy lawyer who barely keeps up
    the pretenses of lawyering and who now faces an avalanche of charges, from taxicab-backed bank fraud to money laundering and campaign-finance violations.

  • Mari Marigold

    I don't think trump is as concerned with the Russia investigation as he is with the Cohen issue. There is an excellent article in the New Yorker about the real threat to trump's presidency, and it has nothing to do with Russia, but it does explain why Cohen has had a sudden change of attitude and demeanor. Here's a piece of the article:

    However, I am unaware of anybody who has taken a serious look at Trump’s
    business who doesn’t believe that there is a high likelihood of rampant
    criminality. In Azerbaijan, he did business with a likely money launderer for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. In the Republic of Georgia, he partnered with a group that was being investigated
    for a possible role in the largest known bank-fraud and
    money-laundering case in history. In Indonesia, his development partner
    is “knee-deep in dirty politics”; there are criminal investigations of his deals in Brazil; the F.B.I. is reportedly looking
    into his daughter Ivanka’s role in the Trump hotel in Vancouver, for
    which she worked with a Malaysian family that has admitted to financial
    fraud. Back home, Donald, Jr., and Ivanka were investigated for
    financial crimes associated with the Trump hotel in SoHo—an
    investigation that was halted suspiciously. His Taj Mahal casino received what was then the largest fine in history for money-laundering violations.

  • notagain

    I wonder how long before this lawyer quits Trump's team.

  • JohnC

    Clearly you need a third party to sort through these. If just left to a lawyer or his client then all you need for the perfect crime is a law degree and you can get away with murder and they won't be able to catch you.

  • dancer92136

    Good luck with trying to stop anyone from reading it.

  • dan

    I would bet there is strong evidence of collusion by Cohen and Donald Trump laundering massive amounts of money through and or for Russian oligarchs.

  • dan

    For an administration and President who is so innocent, he sure has a lot to hide. Yet, the Limbaugh Lemmings continue their deliberate blind support.

  • Barbara

    This is like a potential defendant asking to see the evidence against him before he's been charged. Not the way things work.

  • SMRT

    Poor Guido, the limit of his loyalty to Donald is about to be tested. But like most crime families, he would rather do time than give up the loyalty oath he took to Donald.

  • SMRT

    I doubt I’m the only one uncomfortable seeing the term “taint team”, in association with a discussion about Donald’s activities.

  • quasi_anyon

    Little Donny John and Pagan Pence, the worst of humanity.

  • quasi_anyon

    The really guilty, like Little Donny John, are always ... this stinks so bad and it is the American people that get stuck with the bills. This is truly a deplorable (so-called) administration.

  • SMRT

    Donald, who OF COURSE, has nothing to hide, is trying to stack the deck and undermine the legitimate judicial process, in the attempt to stack the deck in his favor, because you know...he has nothing to hide.

  • Rodney Bayburn

    Cohen almost certainly committed a felony. And doing something for a client without their knowledge is cause for disbarment. There is no Attourney client privilege ofnthe Attourney is accused of a crime and using that privilege to cover it up.