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DOJ: Michael Cohen 'under criminal investigation'

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's personal attorney, has been "under criminal investigation" for months in New ...

Posted: Apr 14, 2018 10:19 AM
Updated: Apr 14, 2018 10:19 AM

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's personal attorney, has been "under criminal investigation" for months in New York because of his business dealings, the Justice Department said Friday.

The revelation comes amid a courtroom drama that unfolded Friday, as Cohen's attorneys and Trump's attorneys began a fight hours before with the US Attorney's Office in Manhattan over a massive raid of Cohen's records.

Cohen's attorneys have filed a temporary restraining order in the matter, asking the court to stop federal prosecutors from using some of the records they seized. Cohen did not appear in court Friday morning and has not been charged with a crime.

In response to Cohen's motion to prevent prosecutors from using evidence collected in Monday's raids of his home and office, the US attorney in New York asserted the raids were authorized by a federal judge to seek evidence of conduct "for which Cohen is under criminal investigation."

A court filing did not detail what Cohen is under investigation for.

But the filing contains the first details released by the Justice Department on the searches, which covered Cohen's residence, hotel room, office, safety deposit boxes and two cell phones. Previous search warrants allowed New York federal prosecutors to search multiple email accounts, the filing said. In them, they found that Cohen had done "little to no legal work, and that zero emails were exchanged with President Trump."

The prosecutors assert that they have confidence that any seized material would not fall under the significant amount of attorney-client privilege that Cohen has claimed. They said Cohen has told at least one witness that his only client was Trump.

The prosecutors noted Cohen had personally not turned over any documents to Robert Mueller's Special Counsel investigation. Initially, Mueller had requested some records from Cohen while he was with the Trump family company - a position he held for about a decade - yet dropped the request after Cohen pushed back. Mueller's office referred the case about his business dealings to New York but hasn't been involved since, the Manhattan prosecutors said.

Monday's raids included a search for communications related to efforts to suppress negative information ahead of the election, including communications that Trump had with Cohen regarding the infamous "Access Hollywood" tape that captured Trump making lewd remarks about women that surfaced a month before the election, CNN reported this week.

It also potentially involved records related to porn star Stormy Daniels, who was paid $130,000 weeks before the election to silence an alleged affair she had with Trump. Records related to Cohen's taxi medallion business were also sought.

Prosecutors say they've set up what's known as a "taint team" or "filter team" to review Cohen's documents so nothing they seized is used improperly or breaches client confidentiality.

Each search warrant specifically describes how records seized that may fall into attorney-client privilege will be filtered out by a team that's walled off from the federal agents who have conducted the investigation, the prosecutors wrote.

Once they've reviewed the records, the filter team can give to the investigators communications "between Cohen and persons with whom Cohen undisputedly does not have an attorney-client relationship," likely meaning the records wouldn't be between Cohen and Trump, prosecutors said. The filter team is working from a list of individuals and companies they've compiled regarding people who aren't Cohen's legal clients.

Cohen's lawyers, for their part, have asked to review the material for themselves, a proposal which the Manhattan prosecutors are fighting.

The Southern District of New York prosecutors also heard from Trump Organization lawyers, who want them to throw out all communication between Cohen, the company and its employees.

Following the hearing Friday, the court matter is on pause until 4 pm.

Joanna Hendon, a new lawyer for Trump who appeared in court, said her law firm, Spears & Imes LLP, was engaged by Trump on Wednesday and she was "not prepared" to present her argument.

The Justice Department is asking for a so-called taint team to vet the material seized in the raids Monday, as is standard process. Cohen's lawyer is asking for the lawyers themselves to review the material or a "special master" to decide what is relevant to the case, and Hendon is concerned about a taint team or however the material is handled.

On Monday, Cohen's attorney called the searches "completely inappropriate and unnecessary."

"It resulted in the unnecessary seizure of protected attorney client communications between a lawyer and his client," attorney Stephen Ryan said in the statement.

Michael Avenatti, a lawyer for Stormy Daniels, also made an appearance at the hearing. In a footnote in its filing, the prosecutors expressed doubt that any communications between Trump and Cohen regarding a payoff to Daniels before the election would be covered under attorney-client privilege. They cited the President's own comments.

"Among other things, President Trump has publicly denied knowing that Cohen paid Clifford, and suggested to reporters that they had to "ask Michael" about the payment," the footnote argues, citing a story by CNN's Kevin Liptak.

This story has been updated.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 295295

Reported Deaths: 6724
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19672230
Hinds18799386
Harrison16710278
Rankin12685264
Jackson12592226
Lee9687160
Madison9457199
Jones7962146
Forrest7208136
Lauderdale6833226
Lowndes6022137
Lamar588080
Lafayette5733113
Washington5218130
Bolivar4609123
Oktibbeha441393
Panola430394
Pearl River4167130
Warren4129114
Pontotoc408869
Marshall403192
Monroe3989126
Union395374
Neshoba3807168
Lincoln3541102
Hancock347374
Leflore3375118
Sunflower318386
Tate302474
Pike300195
Scott293870
Alcorn291861
Itawamba289975
Yazoo289262
Tippah278765
Copiah277857
Coahoma277568
Simpson274878
Prentiss269758
Wayne253841
Marion252678
Leake252471
Covington248879
Grenada247377
Adams234377
George231745
Newton229652
Winston221675
Jasper213445
Tishomingo212365
Attala206569
Chickasaw201151
Holmes182270
Clay179150
Stone172429
Tallahatchie170539
Clarke169371
Calhoun157828
Smith152731
Yalobusha144836
Greene127633
Walthall124140
Noxubee122829
Montgomery122438
Perry121634
Lawrence120321
Carroll118225
Amite111533
Webster110630
Jefferson Davis101731
Tunica99023
Claiborne98429
Benton93324
Humphreys92827
Kemper90223
Quitman77114
Franklin76119
Choctaw69516
Jefferson62527
Wilkinson62426
Sharkey48817
Issaquena1676
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 493769

Reported Deaths: 9931
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson710731374
Mobile36139727
Madison32425455
Tuscaloosa24184410
Montgomery22586500
Shelby21968215
Baldwin19758283
Lee14967153
Morgan13667251
Calhoun13300286
Etowah13184319
Marshall11262209
Houston10104261
Elmore9385185
Limestone9363134
Cullman8897181
St. Clair8827223
Lauderdale8607211
DeKalb8459175
Talladega7523163
Walker6524255
Jackson6495102
Autauga627091
Blount6102127
Colbert6004118
Coffee5249102
Dale4642107
Russell404930
Franklin399177
Covington3960106
Chilton3876100
Escambia377672
Tallapoosa3588142
Clarke343650
Chambers3413110
Dallas3403141
Pike293472
Lawrence283484
Marion281995
Winston246867
Bibb245060
Geneva239970
Marengo236455
Pickens224654
Barbour211651
Hale210568
Fayette200756
Butler196866
Henry182441
Cherokee177038
Monroe166139
Randolph163740
Washington156535
Crenshaw144854
Clay144454
Macon142043
Cleburne137839
Lamar132833
Lowndes131151
Wilcox121825
Bullock116936
Conecuh106724
Perry105627
Sumter98531
Coosa88923
Greene88232
Choctaw55123
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