Judge readies for update on Trump personal lawyer probe

Hugh Fox
June 2, 2018

If Cohen's team can not finish in time, the remaining documents would be turned over to a separate group government lawyers - known as a "taint team".

"I don't know if we can make that", Ryan told Wood, who stuck to the deadline despite the objections from Cohen's team.

For months now, authorities have been investigating whether Cohen violated the law in his wide-ranging business deals, including hush-money payments that he made to women who claimed they had affairs with Trump - among them Stephanie Clifford, a former pornographic film star better known as Stormy Daniels.

Additional electronic data from the contents of other telephones and digital devices were produced by the government for study by Jones and lawyers for Cohen and Trump on May 11, and Jones said the three telephones that produced the more than million pieces of data were from that shipment.

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Cohen's attorneys then said they couldn't be sure if the phones belonged to Cohen's wife.

Meanwhile, Epner said that because disputed items wouldn't be turned over to federal prosecutors until all objections and appeals are exhausted, there was more "incentive" for Cohen and Trump to "carry the fight" to the circuit court - and even the Supreme Court level - if Jones and Wood "decide that documents over which privilege is claimed are, in fact, not privileged".

After the hearing, Avenatti withdrew his motion to appear in the case, but he could file another in the future.

Cohen has worked for Trump for more than a decade, first as counsel at the Trump Organization and later as his personal lawyer. The release showed Cohen also using the account to receive millions of dollars from companies such as AT&T and Novartis, which have publicly acknowledging paying Cohen for supposed consultation services. Jones noted that so far, only 252 items had been flagged as privileged by attorneys for Trump or Cohen in two of the four sets of material she'd reviewed, and she said she expected to make a recommendation about those materials by Monday. Avenatti has said he believes the leak is meant to "paint a false narrative" of his client.

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"I can't stop you, unless you're participating in a matter before me", Wood said to Avenatti in the packed courtroom in Manhattan Wednesday.

The judge said she is anxious that Avenatti's "denigrating Mr. Cohen" could deprive him of a fair trial if he is criminally charged by the feds, who are looking into his business dealings, including a $130,000 "hush money" payment to Avenatti's porn star client, who claims she had a fling with the President. The US attorney's office in Los Angeles said Avenatti has paid at least $1.5 million of that total, but he and the firm missed a payment due last week.

Meanwhile, Avenatti has asserted that Cohen and his legal team are leaking audio recordings related to Daniels that were seized in the Federal Bureau of Investigation raids on Cohen's home and office.

Responding to a request from Business Insider, Avenatti called the effort by Cohen's attorneys "desperate".

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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's privilege claims. Avenatti's firm holds a 75 percent stake in Eagan-Avenatti while Michael Eagan holds a 25 percent stake in said firm, according to documents obtained by Finnegan. According to the Washington Post, Cohen is now under investigation for bank fraud, wire fraud, and campaign finance violations.

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