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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.

Confirmed Cases: 15229

Reported Deaths: 723
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds99925
Lauderdale73561
Madison72023
Scott65012
Neshoba63038
Jones59825
Forrest55338
DeSoto5337
Rankin4217
Leake42112
Holmes39728
Copiah3104
Jackson30513
Attala29216
Yazoo2734
Newton2714
Leflore25831
Harrison2577
Lincoln25628
Monroe25525
Lamar2355
Oktibbeha23512
Lowndes2119
Pearl River20931
Pike20211
Adams19615
Noxubee1856
Wayne1771
Warren1719
Washington1687
Covington1652
Bolivar16011
Jasper1574
Smith15011
Lee1496
Kemper14411
Clarke14318
Chickasaw13312
Lafayette1314
Coahoma1214
Carroll11711
Marion1159
Clay1124
Winston1121
Claiborne1112
Lawrence1021
Simpson1010
Yalobusha905
Hancock9011
Tate891
Grenada893
Wilkinson889
Itawamba877
Union835
Marshall833
Montgomery831
Sunflower813
Jefferson Davis772
Tippah7311
Panola703
Webster691
Calhoun644
Humphreys607
Amite601
Walthall550
Tunica543
Prentiss523
Perry503
Choctaw432
Jefferson421
Tishomingo320
Pontotoc323
Stone300
Franklin282
Tallahatchie271
Quitman260
George251
Alcorn171
Benton150
Greene121
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 17359

Reported Deaths: 618
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2191115
Jefferson1780102
Montgomery163238
Tuscaloosa73814
Marshall6879
Franklin5457
Lee54033
Shelby50319
Tallapoosa42364
Butler40217
Chambers35325
Walker3442
Elmore3398
Madison3274
Baldwin2839
Dallas2603
Morgan2511
Etowah24811
DeKalb2433
Lowndes23812
Coffee2291
Sumter2206
Autauga2164
Houston2094
Bullock2034
Pike1980
Colbert1782
Russell1670
Marengo1636
Lauderdale1612
Hale1598
Calhoun1543
Choctaw1518
Barbour1501
Wilcox1447
Clarke1422
Cullman1260
Randolph1257
Marion12111
St. Clair1181
Pickens1114
Dale1100
Talladega1093
Chilton1001
Limestone940
Greene944
Winston880
Covington771
Jackson772
Crenshaw763
Macon754
Henry742
Bibb721
Washington686
Blount611
Escambia573
Lawrence480
Geneva400
Conecuh391
Coosa381
Monroe372
Perry370
Cherokee373
Clay272
Lamar230
Fayette150
Cleburne141
Unassigned00
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