U.S. Judge Kimba Wood on Wednesday rejected Michael Cohen’s attempts to slow the schedule of the attorney-client privilege review process for the millions of items seized from his home, office and hotel room last month.
At a court hearing in Lower Manhattan, Wood sided with prosecutors in announcing a June 15 deadline for Cohen, President Trump’s long-time fixer, to make all remaining claims of attorney-client privilege. Cohen’s lawyers argued for mid July. Prosecutors called that an “unreasonable delay.”
Wood said Cohen’s wish to methodologically sort through potentially privileged documents needed to be balanced with “the need for the investigation to go forward.”
Cohen looked tired Wednesday, elbows resting on the table in front of him and head cocked slightly back. He sat in the middle seat in the middle of three rows of tables and stared straight ahead, moving very little throughout the hearing.
At one point, Cohen whispered something to his lawyer in response to a question from Wood. Todd Harrison then told the court that two Blackberrys now in the government’s possession were eight years old, at least. Harrison added that the phones may have belonged to Cohen’s wife, and that they were unsure what material, if any, was on them.
Harrison, sitting to his client’s right, told the court Cohen’s team had received 3.7 million files from the government to review, and had processed 1.3 million of them.
Harrison said Cohen’s legal team included 15 lawyers and two data specialists working “all night” and through the Memorial Day weekend. One associate even “developed a tremor in his hand,” Harrison said.
At times, lawyers for Trump and the Trump Organization acknowledged the document review work of Cohen’s team, and of special master Barbara Jones, appointed by the court to review Cohen, Trump and the Trump Organization’s privilege claims.
“When you get into it, you realize how much time it takes,” said Alan Futerfas, who represents the Trump Organization, referring to Cohen’s team’s work.
But prosecutors pushed for the privilege claims to conclude by mid-June, and Wood agreed, setting the June 15 deadline with the balance of material left unprocessed by Cohen’s lawyers going to a taint team within the prosecutors’ office at that time.
Investigators raided Cohen’s home, office and hotel room on April 9 as part of a months-long criminal probe into Cohen’s business practices. The probe of Trump’s fixer reportedly includes potential campaign finance violations and bank fraud connected to the $130,000 hush money payment he made to porn star Stormy Daniels in October 2016.
There has been widespread speculation that any charges against Cohen could induce him to cooperate with the investigation into Russian election meddling and possible collusion by the Trump campaign.
This post has been updated.