Judge Extends Evidence Deadline For Cohen Team On Attorney-Client Privilege

on September 19, 2017 in Washington, DC.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images North America

NEW YORK — A U.S. District Judge on Friday reluctantly agreed to give attorneys for Michael Cohen an extension to provide evidence bolstering their claim that much of the information seized from Cohen by federal agents Monday is protected by attorney-client privilege.

Judge Kimba Wood said Cohen’s team will need to turn over by Monday a full list of Cohen’s legal clients and the attorneys he’s retained in various legal matters, as well as evidence proving that the parties were engaged in an attorney-client relationship.

The judge had taken the unusual step of calling two recesses throughout the day to give Cohen’s legal team time to gather this requested information. Her impatience at their failure to do so was palpable by late afternoon.

Wood directed that Cohen be present in court at the next hearing on Monday “so we don’t need to have any more adjournments.”

Court filings unsealed Friday revealed that Cohen has been under grand jury investigation for months for alleged “criminal conduct” related primarily to his “personal business dealings.”

In court, the Manhattan attorney and long-time fixer for Donald Trump was represented by a trio of lawyers — one who had only joined the case on Friday afternoon. They were there to argue that they should get to review the documents seized from Cohen’s office, apartment and hotel room this week before federal prosecutors do so. According to reports, the search warrants related to payouts Cohen coordinated for women who have claimed to have had affairs with Trump, as well as to a taxi business Cohen is involved with.

In the courtroom Friday afternoon, the prosecution argued that Cohen’s team is trying to use attorney-client privilege to both keep the government from reviewing the information they have searched and to protect their client from having to turn over additional information pertinent to the case.

Assistant US Attorney Tom McKay said the law was very clear that the privilege “can’t be used as both a sword and a shield.”

Cohen’s team deserved no extension to try to prove their “wildly overbroad claims of privilege” for material that was lawfully obtained through search warrants, McKay insisted.

Though Wood ultimately granted Cohen’s team additional time, she referred to the prosecution’s concerns as “well-taken.”

Cohen’s lawyers will need to turn over the requested material by 10 a.m. Monday, and court will reconvene at 2 p.m.—with Cohen himself seated at the counsel’s table.

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