U.S. President Donald Trump’s personal attorney is in Federal Court today in New York City, arguing over evidence found during recent FBI raids and whether to reveal the identity of one of his clients.
Michael Cohen is under criminal investigation for personal business dealings and was ordered to appear in court to answer questions about his law practice. Cohen, who arrived about 45 minutes before the scheduled 2 p.m. hearing, denied wrongdoing.
Stormy Daniels, the adult actor who is involved in legal wrangling with Cohen, was also present for the hearing.
A lawyer for Trump filed papers late Sunday asking a federal judge to block prosecutors from studying material seized in the raid until Cohen and the president have a chance to review them and argue which are subject to attorney-client privilege.
The raids carried out last Monday at Cohen’s apartment, hotel room, office and safety deposit box sought bank records, records on Cohen’s dealings in the taxi industry, Cohen’s communications with the Trump campaign and information on payments he made in 2016 to former Playboy model Karen McDougal and to Stormy Daniels.
Sean Hannity a client
At the hearing Monday, assistant U.S. Attorney Tom McKay asked a federal judge to require Cohen to reveal more information about his clients.
Sean Hannity of Fox News is one of Cohen’s clients, court heard Monday.(Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press)
Cohen was forced to reveal that another of his clients is Fox News host Sean Hannity.
Lawyers for Cohen argued that they could not identify Hannity because he asked that his name not be disclosed in connection with an FBI seizure of Cohen’s files. But Judge Kimba Wood made one of the lawyers identify him in open court.
Cohen’s lawyers said investigators “took everything” during raids last week on his residence and office. They called the search “completely unprecedented.”
Disagreement over attorney-client privilege
On Friday, lawyers for Cohen appeared in Federal Court in New York asking that they, not the Department of Justice, be given a first crack at reviewing the seized evidence to see if it was relevant to the investigation or could be forwarded to criminal investigators without jeopardizing attorney-client privilege.
Prosecutors want a different system, in which a special team of Justice Department lawyers not directly involved in the probe would review the material and determine what was off-limits to investigators because of attorney-client privilege.
Hendon proposed yet another level of protections, in which Cohen’s lawyers, after finishing their initial review, then be required to “identify to the president all seized materials that relate to him in any way and provide a copy of those materials to him and his counsel.”
Trump, or his lawyers, would then get to say what he believed to be off-limits to investigators.
Stephanie Clifford, an adult actor who goes by the name Stormy Daniels, arrives at federal court to attend a court hearing where a federal judge is considering how to review materials that the FBI seized from Trump’s personal lawyer.(Seth Wenig/Associated Press)
Trump said Sunday, without supporting evidence, that all lawyers are now “deflated and concerned” by the FBI raids on Cohen.
“Attorney Client privilege is now a thing of the past,” he tweeted. “I have many (too many!) lawyers and they are probably wondering when their offices, and even homes, are going to be raided with everything, including their phones and computers, taken. All lawyers are deflated and concerned!”
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