The US attorney is already using Trump's 'Fox & Friends' comments about Michael Cohen against him

caption
Donald Trump.
source
Alex Wong/Getty Images

  • President Donald Trump told the Fox News morning show
    "Fox & Friends" on Thursday that Michael Cohen, his
    longtime attorney, handled only a "tiny fraction" of his legal
    work.
  • Cohen is the focus of a federal criminal
    investigation.
  • The next hearing in his case is set for Thursday
    afternoon.
  • In a filing, the government used Trump’s comments as
    evidence that few of the documents seized in a series of raids
    are likely to contain privileged information.

President Donald Trump on Thursday suggested that Michael Cohen,
his longtime attorney, handled only a small portion of his legal
work.

Meanwhile, a criminal investigation involving the lawyer is
centering on how much evidence obtained by the government in a
series of raids falls under attorney-client privilege.

During an interview on Thursday with the Fox News morning show
"Fox & Friends," Trump said Cohen handled a "tiny, tiny fraction" of his
"overall legal work."

In a filing later Thursday, the government cited the comments as
evidence that "the seized materials are unlikely to contain
voluminous privileged documents."

The FBI raided Cohen’s office and hotel room 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 disclosed what exactly they are looking into,
though they said in a court filing that "the crimes being
investigated involve acts of concealment."

Cohen is said to have been a cause for worry in the White House
in recent weeks. People close to Trump have suggested Cohen is
likely to "flip," or cooperate with the
government by providing information about others in exchange for
a lesser punishment. Cohen has not been charged with a crime.

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 $130,000 shortly before the 2016
election to ensure her silence about an alleged affair with
Trump.

In the Thursday interview, Trump suggested that the investigation
into Cohen was connected more to his business dealings than to
his legal career.

"Michael is in business – he is really a businessman, a fairly
big business, as I understand it," Trump said. "I don’t know his
business, but [the investigation] doesn’t have to do with me."

Cohen "also practices law," Trump said, but "I would say probably
the big thing is his business, and they’re looking something
having to do with his business."

Though Trump said Cohen’s legal work for him was minimal, he said
the lawyer "represents me on some things," mentioning "this crazy
Stormy Daniels deal."

Trump said he had been told he wasn’t involved in the Cohen
investigation.

"From what I understand," he said, "they’re looking at his
businesses."

A hearing is set for Thursday

Michael Cohen

caption
Michael Cohen.
source
Yana Paskova/Getty Images

The next hearing is scheduled for
Thursday
in federal court in Manhattan. US District Judge
Kimba Wood could determine whether to appoint a special master to
oversee the review of documents.

The special master would be an outside third party who would
initially review the documents seized during the FBI’s raids and
determine whether something falls under protected attorney-client
privilege and what prosecutors could use against Cohen.

Raiding an attorney’s office is a last-resort option for the
Justice Department when it fears that documents could be
destroyed if they were sought in any other way.

Trump and Cohen don’t quite see eye to eye on
a special master.

After seeking to allow Cohen to review the documents, Cohen’s
attorneys sought the appointment, while Trump has offered to

review them himself
.

The government opposes such an appointment, insisting that a
so-called taint team of prosecutors could do the initial document
review effectively. It argues that the case does not present
special circumstances that differentiate it from others in which
protocol is a taint team.

Wood has signaled that she’s open
to using a taint team or appointing a special master, for whom
Cohen’s attorneys and federal prosecutors have submitted a list
of candidates.

Observers told Business Insider that Wood would be more likely to select one of the
government’s nominees
, who are retired judges from the
Southern District of New York; Cohen’s team submitted names of
former federal prosecutors.

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