- US District Judge Kimba Wood could make a determination on appointing a special master in the case involving President Donald Trump’s longtime lawyer Michael Cohen.
- She could make the decision at a hearing on Thursday.
- The judge requested that lawyers for Trump, the Trump Organisation, and Cohen submit proposals for how they plan to quickly review the evidence seized by the FBI during raids on Cohen’s home, hotel room, and office earlier this month.
That judge, US District Judge Kimba Wood, told lawyers for Trump, the Trump Organisation, and Trump’s longtime lawyer Michael Cohen on Wednesday that they need to submit proposals for how they plan to quickly review the evidence seized by the FBI during raids on Cohen’s home, office, and hotel room earlier this month, and label any of the information contained as protect by attorney-client privilege.
Wood issued the instructions on Wednesday, indicating she may appoint a special master to conduct the review of evidence that Trump, his business, and Cohen say shouldn’t be viewed by the government because it is privileged.
The lawyers “should be prepared to address the process to be undertaken by a special master, should one be appointed,” Wood said.
The lawyers were asked to submit a letter by Wednesday evening indicating what resources they can provide a possible special master “with any necessary information to make timely and accurate determination as to privilege.”
A hearing in the case is set for noon Thursday in Manhattan federal court.
The FBI conducted the raids earlier this month as part of a criminal investigation into whether Cohen violated campaign finance laws or committed bank fraud, The Washington Post reported. Prosecutors haven’t specifically revealed what they are looking into in relation to Cohen, though they said in a court filing that “the crimes being investigated involve acts of concealment.”
Trump and Cohen don’t see eye-to-eye on the special master
Cohen, who for years has been a close friend and adviser to Trump, has expressed intense loyalty to the president. He once reportedly said he would “take a bullet” for Trump, and he has handled sensitive matters related to him, including paying the porn star Stormy Daniels $US130,000 shortly before the 2016 election to ensure her silence about an alleged affair with Trump.
Trump and Cohen don’t see eye-to-eye on the appointment of a special master. The special master, an outside third party who would initially review the documents seized by the government during the FBI’s raids, would determine what falls under protected attorney-client privilege and what does not and can be used by the prosecution against Cohen.
Any raid of an attorney’s office is done as a last-resort option by the Justice Department, which per protocol feared that documents would be destroyed if they were to be sought in any other way.
After initially seeking to have Cohen be the one to review the documents, his attorneys have sought the appointment of such a special master. At the same time, Trump requested initial review of the documents, brushing back against the appointment of a special master.
The government, meanwhile, is against the appointment of a special master, insisting that what is known as a “taint team” of prosecutors can effectively do the initial document review. The case, they argue, does not present special circumstances that differentiate it from other cases in which a taint team is protocol.
Wood was not warm to Trump’s side, saying she’s open to the taint team or a special master. Both Cohen’s attorneys and federal prosecutors have submitted a list of possible special masters. Observers told Business Insider that the judge was more likely to select one of the government’s nominees, which are all retired judges from the Southern District of New York. Cohen’s team submitted a group of former federal prosecutors.
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