President Donald Trump is demanding the chance to review his files seized by federal investigators from his longtime fixer, Michael Cohen, to assess which are protected by attorney-client privilege, arguing that DOJ prosecutors cannot fairly make that determination.
Trump’s demands came in a letter filed late Sunday evening in federal court in Manhattan, where U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood has scheduled a hearing Monday to determine who gets to go through the seized records first. Prosecutors have said that a federal grand jury has been investigating Cohen for months. He has not been charged with any crimes.
Trump’s lawyers asked that he and Cohen receive a copy of the materials obtained in last week’s raids so they can give them a first pass for exchanges that may be privileged. A so-called “taint team” of DOJ attorneys uninvolved in the case would be “plainly inadequate” and fail to “zealously protect the President’s privilege,” Trump attorney Joanna Hendon wrote in the letter addressed to Wood.
The President retained this new legal team after federal agents raided Cohen’s office, home and apartment last Monday. Court filings released days later revealed that Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney and close ally, has been under criminal investigation for matters related to his business dealings.
Lawyers for Trump and Cohen have taken similar tacks, arguing that the U.S. Attorney’s Office is trying to rush the investigation and made their seizures in an inappropriate fashion.
In her Sunday letter, Hendon said that agents acted in an “aggressive, intrusive, and unorthodox manner” during the raid and that their actions were “disquieting to lawyers, clients, citizens, and commentators alike.”
She argued that U.S. prosecutors had made clear in their filings before the court that they’ve “pre-judged the matter of privilege” by insisting that few of the documents seized were likely to warrant that protection, and that the “staggering amount of attention trained on this investigation, Mr. Cohen, and the President” make it impossible for them to review the material fairly.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office has asked Wood for permission to begin reviewing the material immediately, noting that the use of taint teams is “common procedure” in federal investigations.
Wood is expected to decide who gets first crack at the documents at a hearing Monday at 2 p.m. ET in federal court in lower Manhattan. Cohen has been ordered to appear in person.
Read the full letter below:
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