President Trump, through his lawyers, made an attempt to block federal prosecutors from reviewing documents seized in Michael Cohen’s office and home. They argued to a federal judge on Sunday that the Department of Justice cannot fairly evaluate the materials.
Three lawyers for the president wrote to Judge Kimba Wood in the Southern District of New York requesting that Trump and Cohen be allowed to identify privileged communications prior to a fuller review.
Joanna Hendon, Christopher Dysard and Reed Keefe wrote to the judge that potentially privileged information was seized during the raid. They argued that Trump should be able to review those documents before a taint team made up of federal agents and prosecutors see them. He should have the chance to ensure his right to attorney-client privilege.
“The President, the public, and the government have a vital interest in ensuring the integrity of the privilege review process, and the taint team procedure is plainly inadequate to the task,” the lawyers wrote.
“There is, as well, cause for concern that a taint team could not evaluate Mr. Cohen’s files (and, in particular, those relating to the president) fairly,” they continued. Their argument is that prosecutors would be disinclined to see certain communications as privileged.
President Trump has made several criticisms of the DOJ on multiple occasions, focusing on Attorney General Jeff Sessions and special counsel Robert Mueller in particular.
Cohen, who has served as Trump’s personal attorney for years, had his office and hotel room raided last week. He is under investigation for bank fraud and campaign finance law violations.
Federal agents apparently seized bank records, communications between Cohen and Trump, and documents related to payments made to two women who alleged they had an affair with the president more than a decade ago.
Prosecutors in Manhattan obtained the search warrants for the raid “in part” because of a referral from special counsel Robert Mueller’s office. The president has since launched a number of attacks on Mueller and his investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.