Lawyer: President Trump ready for role in raids' evidence review

Glen Norman
April 27, 2018

A federal judge ruled on Thursday that a court-appointed independent official called a special master should be the first to examine documents seized by FBI agents from U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.

"This doesn't have to do with me". He's got a business.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford says that the payment was meant to keep her silent about an affair she says she had with Trump more than a decade ago.

Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of NY wrote to federal Judge Kimba Wood on Thursday saying they were prepared to withdraw their objection to a "special master".

Federal prosecutors quickly seized on Trump's comments in a court filing Thursday morning, arguing that because Cohen preformed only a "tiny, tiny little fraction" of Trump's legal work, the documents seized by FBI officials earlier this month are "unlikely to contain voluminous privileged documents".

The remark seemed similar to Trump's downplaying of the stature of other top aides who were later acrimnoniously ousted from his orbit, such as onetime campaign chief Paul Manafort and firebrand White House political supremo Steve Bannon.

Trump said Cohen represented him in the "crazy" Stormy Daniels case. The judge in that case said last week that he needed to hear from Cohen directly before deciding on that request.

Cohen has admitted to paying Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, a $130,000 hush payment in connection with an alleged affair Daniels had with Trump in 2006.

Cohen's NY home and office were raided by the FBI this month as part of an unspecified criminal investigation and Trump sought in the "Fox and Friends" interview to distance himself from his longtime personal attorney. "You know, from what I see, he did absolutely nothing wrong".

Yet in 1990, Trump himself took the Fifth to avoid answering 97 questions in a divorce deposition.

The trouble for Mr Cohen, and the president, is that lawyers for both men are arguing that documents seized by federal investigators in a recent raid on Mr Cohen's office and home are covered under attorney-client privilege. He added: "If they bring things up you didn't ask about, and if they bring it up and make a false statement about it, that's - it's not definitive, but it certainly makes you very concerned about what might be going on there".

Cohen is also dealing with a civil case filed by Daniels, who is seeking to invalidate the confidentiality agreement she signed before the election.

Trump also wished his wife, Melania, a happy birthday and said he chose the interview datein honor of the occasion. Fox News host Sean Hannity, who was also revealed in court as one of Cohen's clients, has made a similar argument.

Cohen is under federal criminal investigation in NY into his personal business dealings.

Trump denies having sex with Daniels while married and, more broadly, said he had made a decision to "try to stay away from" the workings of the Justice Department "but pretty soon I won't".

"Because of the fact that they have this witch hunt going on with people in the Justice Department that shouldn't be there, they have a witch hunt against the president of the United States going on, I've taken the position - and I don't have to take this position, and maybe I'll change - that I will not be involved with the Justice Department".

The president told Comey that salacious claims in an intelligence dossier about a night he spent at the hotel were impossible, because "he had spoken to people who had been on... the trip with him and they had reminded him that he didn't stay over night in Russian Federation for that".

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