U.S. court rejects Trump plea, allows review of FBI-seized documents

U.S. court rejects Trump plea, allows review of FBI-seized documents

A federal judge rejected a request from President Donald Trump and his personal lawyer Michael Cohen for a temporary restraining order that would have kept federal prosecutors from reading files seized in raids last week.

He asked the court to give his lawyers first look at the seized materials so they could identify documents that were protected by attorney-client privilege.

He's known as the President's longtime personal attorney.

Cohen's lawyers say they will then go through the materials and share relevant information with President Trump's legal team.&.

The next phase is a battle over the procedures involving who may review the materials seized by FBI investigators last week. Lawyer Stephen Ryan also lost a bid to keep secret a mystery client of Cohen's he described as a "prominent person" who would be embarrassed by the revelation, the New York Times reports in a separate story.

At issue is the topic of attorney-client privilege, which the president has claimed in recent days is "dead".

What if agents find evidence of a crime that is not specifically covered by a warrant?

The government said it has a so-called "filter team" of lawyers unaffiliated with the case available to review communications between Mr. Cohen and his clients for attorney-client privilege.

"He is objecting that anyone other than himself" be able to make that determination, Trump attorney Joanna Hendon told the court.

In late 2016, he paid adult-film star Stormy Daniels $130,000 in exchange for her agreement not to discuss an alleged sexual encounter with Trump.

Cohen's lawyers did not detail the type of legal work he did for Hannity.

Daniels' planned attendance dominated the headlines in the run-up to the hearing, having been announced the night before (April 15) by Avenatti, a Hollywood lawyer whose media savvy comes close to matching that of president Trump. She and Avenatti sat feet apart from Cohen but did not appear to interact. Court artists craned to observe Clifford through their magnifying spectacles.

Wood requested that his lawyers present Cohen's client list before then, as she decides whether the material seized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation would infringe on attorney-client privilege of any other potential clients. But, as the news of Hannity's role ping-ponged around media and political circles in NY and Washington, Hannity downplayed any attorney-client relationship he has had with Cohen.

Attorneys for Cohen say they want first crack.

"Our number one concern was that the documents, the integrity of the documents, be maintained during the process", he said. "It's that you've misstated the law".

McKay said Cohen's case should be treated "like any other white-collar case", as his work as an attorney was not central to their inquiries. They declined to say publicly what laws they believed Cohen had broken, but said the probe had to do with her personal business dealings.

But attorneys for Cohen and Trump were at pains to disagree.

He is claiming that materials seized on a raid at his home and office last week are subject to attorney-client privilege, and thus inadmissible in any criminal court case.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders demurred when asked on Sunday on ABC's "This Week" if Trump was anxious that Cohen might agree to work with prosecutors, if charged, to reduce his own punishment.

Cohen's lawyer said the search warrant also sought "five paragraphs" that dealt directly with "seeking the papers of the President of the United States" that were in Cohen's possession, including material about the Trump Organization. "Our office has done no such thing". Sometimes Trump praises Hannity in return. He also said his talks with Cohen "almost exclusively focused on real estate".

Mr. Harrison asserted in court documents that attorney-client privilege should protect those documents, noting that Mr. Cohen had three high-profile clients.

Wood directed prosecutors to produce a copy of all Cohen's files for his team and to begin searching metadata to estimate the volume of material.

Wood said Monday that "a taint team is a viable option", but it was unclear how she would ultimately decide to assess the possibly privileged material.



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