Trump's attorneys ask to review documents seized from Cohen in FBI raid

By Ray Downs  |  April 16, 2018 at 2:17 AM
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April 16 (UPI) -- Attorneys for President Donald Trump on Sunday have asked a federal judge to let them review files confiscated from the president's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, in an FBI raid last week.

The attorneys -- Joanna Hendon, Christopher W. Dysard and Reed Keefe -- argue that they should be allowed to do so to protect attorney-client privilege between Trump and Cohen, who is under investigation for "criminal conduct" related to his business dealings. The FBI said it has a "taint team" that will review the documents to set aside any documents that may be protected but Trump's attorneys say this is an inadequate measure.

"The President objects to the government's proposal to use a 'taint team' of prosecutors from the very Office that is investigating this matter to conduct the initial privilege review of documents seized from the President's personal attorney, Michael D. Cohen," Trump's attorneys said in the court filing. "The cases upon which the government relies do not authorize this extraordinary measure, and, to our knowledge, no court in this Circuit has ever forced a privilege-holder, over his objection, to rely on government lawyers to protect his attorney-client privilege as to materials that were seized from his own lawyer's office."

Trump's attorneys said entrusting prosecutors investigating a case to protect the privilege of the person being investigated would be "unprecedented."

"The question now before the Court is, who should perform the initial review of the seized materials to assess whether they are, or are not, subject to a valid claim of privilege: a taint team consisting of colleagues of the prosecutors assigned to this investigation, or the President, who is the holder of the privilege and, as such, has a unique interest in ensuring that every privileged item is fully protected from improper disclosure?" the attorneys wrote.

The answer, the attorneys say, is Trump, the privilege-holder, "should be permitted to review the materials for privilege in the first instance."

According to Politico, U.S. District Court Judge Kimba Wood heard arguments from prosecutors and Trump's attorneys on Friday about whether the seized documents should be blocked.

Wood did not issue a ruling immediately but hearings are scheduled to continue on Monday.

On Sunday, Trump took to Twitter to comment on the possibility his attorney-client privilege has been trampled on.

"Attorney Client privilege is now a thing of the past," Trump wrote. "I have many (too many!) lawyers and they are probably wondering when their offices, and even homes, are going to be raided with everything, including their phones and computers, taken. All lawyers are deflated and concerned!"

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