Netizen 24 CAN: Trump called Michael Cohen as lawyers go to court over seized documents

Posted by On 12:54 PM

Trump called Michael Cohen as lawyers go to court over seized documents

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This April 11, 2018 file photo shows lawyer Michael Cohen in New York.

President Donald Trump phoned his long-time confidant, Michael D. Cohen, to “check in” Friday as lawyers for the two men went to court to block the Justice Department from reading seized documents related to Cohen’s decade of work for Trump, according to two people familiar with the call.

It is not clear what else they discussed in a call that came days after a series of FBI raids. Depending on what was said, the call could be problematic for both men, as defence lawyers often advise their clients not to talk to each other during in vestigations. Trump and Cohen still were trying to determine what exactly was seized.

The raids were even broader than have been previously reported. Prosecutors said the raids were part of a months-long investigation into Cohen. In addition to searching Cohen’s office and hotel room, prosecutors also obtained warrants to seize material from his cellphones, tablet, laptop and a safe-deposit box, according to people briefed on the warrants.

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“The searches are the result of a monthslong investigation into Cohen, and seek evidence of crimes, many of which have nothing to do with his work as an attorney, but rather relate to Cohen’s own business dealings,” federal prosecutors wrote in court papers filed Friday.

The court papers also disclosed that prosecutors â€" before the raids Monday â€" had already obtained secret search warrants for several of Cohen’s e-mail accounts as part of what they said was a g rand jury investigation.

The uncertainty around what was taken has heightened the unease around Trump, whose lawyers had projected confidence in their dealings with the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, but were caught flat-footed by the extraordinary raids on Cohen. The lawyers fear Cohen will not be forthcoming about what was in his files, leaving them girding for the unknown.

A hurriedly scheduled court appearance in Manhattan reflected that worry. The seized documents could shed light on the president’s relationship with an adviser who has helped steer him through some of his thorniest personal and business dilemmas. Joanna C. Hendon, a lawyer for Trump, asked a federal judge to temporarily prohibit the Justice Department from reviewing those materials until the matter can be litigated.

“Those searches have been executed, and the evidence is locked down. I’m not trying to delay,” Hendon said. “I’m just trying to ensure that it’s done sc rupulously.”

Cohen’s lawyers have called the raids of his offices and hotel room an overreach of the law, and the president has said that the attorney-client privilege is dead because of the action.

Cohen wants his lawyers to be able to review the files and withhold privileged material before prosecutors can see them. As an alternative, he asked that an independent lawyer be allowed to review the files first, which prosecutors said would delay the investigation. Prosecutors argued in their court filing that the request by Cohen’s lawyer “belies the true intent of his motion: to delay the case” and “deprive” prosecutors of evidence. Judge Kimba M. Wood of U.S. District Court postponed any decision until a follow-up hearing Monday.

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Federal agents seized documents that dated back years, some of which are related to payments to two women who have said t hey had affairs with Trump. Other documents seized included information about the role of The National Enquirer in silencing one of the women, people briefed on the investigation have said.

The warrant sought all documents, including emails between Cohen and Trump, related to Cohen’s efforts to suppress negative publicity before the 2016 election.

Communications between lawyers and their clients are normally off limits to prosecutors, but there are exceptions, including when the materials are considered part of an ongoing crime.

The raid on Cohen surprised and angered the president, who has been frustrated with the ongoing special counsel investigation into Russia’s 2016 election interference, the Kremlin’s possible co-ordination with Trump associates and whether the president has been deliberately trying to obstruct those inquiries. On Monday, Trump called the raid an “attack on our country in a true sense.”

Federal agents in New York were look ing for information about Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model who claims she had a nearly year-long affair with Trump shortly after the birth of his youngest son in 2006. American Media Inc., which owns the National Enquirer, paid McDougal $150,000. The chief executive of America Media is a friend of Trump’s.

Agents were also searching Cohen’s office and hotel room for information related to Stephanie Clifford, better known as Stormy Daniels, a pornographic film actress. Clifford has said she had sex with Trump while he was married. Cohen has acknowledged that he paid Clifford $130,000 as part of a nondisclosure agreement to secure her silence days before the 2016 presidential election. Trump recently told reporters he knew nothing about the agreement.

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The seized records also include communications between Trump and Cohen, who joined Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, in 2006, which would most likely r equire a special team of agents to review because conversations between lawyers and clients are protected from scrutiny in most instances.

Searching a law office is one of the most sensitive â€" and most heavily reviewed â€" activities the Justice Department conducts. It is rare to seek documents from lawyers in any case, but doing so by search rather than subpoena is unusually aggressive and is typically reserved for cases when prosecutors believe that the lawyer would conceal or destroy evidence if asked for it.

Source: Google News

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