Special Master Approves All But Three Of Cohen’s Few Initial Privilege Claims

Eduardo Munoz Alvarez

The court-appointed “special master” tasked with sorting through Trump fixer Michael Cohen’s claims of attorney-client privilege regarding the materials seized from him during April 9 FBI raids approved most of Cohen’s initial privilege claims Monday.

Special master Barbara Jones rejected three of Cohen’s privilege claims and approved 162 of them in this initial batch of 292,409 items, split between 639 physical documents and other documents spread across on two iPhones and an iPad.

Additionally, Jones agreed that seven items could be categorized as “highly personal,” what she previously defined as containing things like “medical records or similar materials.”

Cohen’s home, office and hotel room were raided on April 9 as part of a months-long criminal probe. Judge Kimba Wood subsequently appointed Jones, a retired judge, as special master tasked with sorting through claims of attorney-client privilege made by Cohen — and President Donald Trump and the Trump Organization, both intervenors in the case — in the seized materials before handing them over to prosecutors.

Referencing Cohen and the intervenors’ privilege claims from “eight boxes of hard copy materials” seized from Cohen, Jones said Monday: “Out of 639 total items consisting of 12,543 pages, the Special Master agrees with the Plaintiff and/or Intervenors and finds that 14 items are Privileged and/or Partially Privileged. The Special Master also finds that 3 items are not privileged.”

And after reviewing privilege claims from “two phones and an iPad” seized from Cohen: “Out of 291,770 total items, the Special Master agrees with the Plaintiff and/or Intervenors and finds that 148 items are Privileged and/or Partially Privileged and that 7 items are Highly Personal.”

As detailed in a Tuesday filing, Jones will have more privilege claims to sort through in the future; this is just the first batch.

Wood noted in a separate filing on Thursday that Cohen and the intervenors should submit objections to Jones’ determinations within one week. “The objections should be detailed enough for the Court to understand the basis or bases for asserting privilege and, if applicable, whether the material comes within the crime-fraud exception,” she wrote.

Cohen’s lawyers said in court Wednesday — TPM was in attendance — that they had received 3.7 million items from the government to review for privilege claims, and had thus far processed 1.3 million of them.

At the same hearing Wednesday, counter to Cohen’s lawyers’ request for more time, Wood sided with prosecutors and set a June 15 deadline for final privilege claims.

Read Jones’ latest filing below:

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