NEW YORK — President Donald Trump and his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, lost their battle to block investigators from looking at records seized during a federal raid of Cohen’s office and home before they had a chance to review them.
Manhattan Federal Court Judge Kimba Wood denied their request after a nearly three-hour hearing where prosecutors and lawyers for Cohen and Trump argued who should have first dibs at the material.
Cohen and Trump’s legal teams said that many of the seized materials were communications that were private and fell under attorney-client privilege.
Cohen’s team in court — and in an earlier filing Monday morning — called on Wood to appoint an independent party known as a “special master” who could review the seized communications and excise ones that were privileged.
Wood instead allowed prosecutors to move forward with the initial stages of the review.
Prosecutors said that there was no need for a special master, stating that they have “a taint team” dedicated to determining which of Cohen’s communications are privileged. Ones that are not privileged would be passed along to the public corruption unit.
“I have faith in the Southern District U.S. Attorney’s Office that their integrity is unimpeachable,” Wood said during the hearing. “I think that a taint team is a viable option.”
However, trying to find compromise with the three parties, Wood indicated that she may appoint a special master to assist prosecutors when they begin sifting through files after a taint team review.
Cohen’s appearance in court on Monday became a media circus — attracting not only a scrum of reporters to the court but X-rated actress Stormy Daniels, former Trump aide Carter Page and even former Gov. Elliot Spitzer.
Trump’s longtime loudmouth consigliere stayed silent for the most part as he passed a fray of reporters hoping for comment.
His lips remained sealed inside the courtroom as well as he calmly listened to his legal team.
Daniels, dressed in a pink suit, turned heads as she made a grand entrance into the courtroom just before the start of the hearing.
The porn star, who was paid $130,000 in a hush agreement over her alleged affair with Trump, sat on a foldable seat, keeping a steady gaze on Cohen.
Prosecutor Thomas McKay said during the hearing that Cohen and Trump created the media spectacle — only to “turn around and cite that media attention as the basis for their requested relief.”
“There are three parties in this case. Only two of them have made public comments about the searches,” McKay said.
“Last Monday both Mr. Cohen and President Trump made inflammatory comments about this case. Our office has done no such thing.”
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