Trump lawyer Michael Cohen expected at court hearing over searches

Trump lawyer Michael Cohen expected at court hearing over searches

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – A longtime personal lawyer for U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to appear Monday in Manhattan federal court as he seeks an order limiting federal prosecutors’ ability to review documents seized in raids on his home and office last week.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen exits a hotel in New York City, U.S., April 13, 2018. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon

Michael Cohen, who prosecutors revealed last week is under criminal investigation, has asked the court to give his own lawyers the first look at the seized materials so they can identify documents that are protected by attorney-client privilege.

Adult-film actress Stormy Daniels plans to attend Monday’s hearing, her lawyer Michael Avenatti, said on Sunday. Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, is engaged in a legal battle with Cohen over a $130,000 agreement for her to keep quiet about a 2006 sexual encounter she says she had with Trump.

In a court filing Sunday night, lawyers for Trump asked to be allowed to review documents that in any way relate to the president.

Lawyers for Cohen appeared without their client at a hearing Friday before U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood. The judge ordered that Cohen himself be present Monday so that he could answer questions about his clients.

Cohen did not respond to a request for comment.

Last week’s raids came after a “months-long” investigation of possible crimes related largely to Cohen’s business dealings, rather than his work as a lawyer, prosecutors said in a court filing on Friday.

A source familiar with the raids said last week that the information FBI agents were seeking included information about payments to Daniels.

The raids were based partly on a referral by the Office of Special Counsel, Robert Mueller who is investigating possible collusion between Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and Russia, according to court filings.

Trump has called Mueller’s probe a “witch hunt” and denied any collusion.

Todd Harrison, a lawyer for Cohen, said at Friday’s hearing that “thousands” of documents seized were likely privileged, and that many related to clients other than Trump.

Prosecutors have asked that the seized documents be reviewed for attorney-client privilege by a “filter team” of lawyers within their own office, who would be walled off from the main prosecution team. The use of filter teams is standard in federal criminal investigations.

Wood ordered Cohen’s lawyers to be ready with a list of Cohen’s clients on Monday to support their argument.

Wood is also expected to hear from a lawyer representing Trump. Joanna Hendon appeared for the president at Friday’s hearing, telling Wood that Trump had “an acute interest” in the handling of the seized materials. She argued in Sunday’s court filing that a Chinese wall in the prosecutor’s office was not enough in the “highly politicized, even fevered, atmosphere” around the probe.

Avenatti, Daniels’ lawyer, said at Friday’s hearing that he had “every reason to believe” that some documents seized from Cohen related to his client. Cohen has acknowledged paying Daniels $130,000 in 2006.

Cohen also arranged a $1.6-million payment to secure the silence of a former Playboy model who said she became pregnant by Elliott Broidy, a top Republican fundraiser, a person familiar with the matter said Friday.

Reporting By Brendan Pierson and Karen Freifeld in New York, Editing by Alexia Garamfalvi



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