Attorneys for President Donald Trump have filed a letter with Federal Judge Kimba M. Wood in the Southern District of New York to intervene in the ongoing investigation of his personal attorney Michael Cohen. They are seeking to put an immediate stop to the review of documents seized by the FBI. Earlier this week, federal investigators raided the office and hotel room of Cohen, in an attempt to gather evidence about alleged bank fraud and possible campaign violations as it relates to his involvement in paying hush money to several women who say they had affairs with Trump.
In the letter filed Sunday evening, Trump’s attorneys assert that he is the “privilege-holder” in the attorney relationship that is in jeopardy because of the FBI raid. As such, Trump objects to the use of so-called “taint teams” to assess whether documents violate his rights. Trump is asking the judge to put a stop to the DOJ’s review of any of the seized material immediately, and to allow him the opportunity to review the documents first.
In the letter, Trump’s lawyers contend that no judge in the Southern District has ever forced a privilege holder (over his objection) to “rely on government lawyers to protect his attorney-client privilege as to materials that were seized from his own lawyer’s office.”
“[T]he Court should enter an order enjoining the government from proceeding with any review of the seized materials, and directing the government to provide a copy of the seized materials to Mr. Cohen so that our firm and the President may review for privilege those seized documents that relate to him,” the letter, submitted by Joanna Hendon from Spears & Imes reads. Hendon represents Trump in this matter.
As we’ve previously detailed, in order to execute a search warrant on Cohen’s premises, prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District got a federal judge to sign off. On top of that, because they raided the office of Trump’s personal attorney, DOJ regulations require additional steps to ensure attorney-client privilege is not breached, including using a separate taint team to review the documents before they are turned over to investigators. Trump has repeatedly taken to twitter to criticize the raid, and insinuate that his attorney client privilege had been breached. Cohen’s attorney says that the case had been referred to the Southern District in part by Mueller’s team.
This is a breaking story, Law&Crime will update with more information as we read through the recent court filing.