Official says Cohen prosecutors will get phone contents soon

01 June, 2018, 20:13 | Author: Sheila Harris
  • Feds will review more than 1M items in Cohen case

Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for adult film star Stephanie Clifford, has withdrawn his request to participate in Michael Cohen's case, after the judge in the case chastised him, saying that he'd have to stop his "publicity tour" first. He represents Daniels in a case concerning the actress' alleged 2006 affair with Trump and hush money that Cohen allegedly paid to silence her shortly before the 2016 election. According to The Wall Street Journal, Avenatti had also attempted to stop Daniels's former manager, Gina Rodriguez, from handing over any communications to the prosecutors handling the case until he had reviewed them himself.

Judge Wood had warned him about the "publicity tour", since he would be subject to NY laws and procedures if he were allowed on the case - meaning he'd have to pull back on his attacks against Cohen.

The hearing ended without Wood making a final decision on whether Avenatti would be allowed to appear.

Cohen has been under investigation for potential bank fraud, wire fraud, and campaign finance law violations for months.

The stakes for the president are high.

CNN reported in April that Cohen frequently recorded phone conversations that were likely to have been swept up in the Federal Bureau of Investigation raid, according to sources familiar with the matter.

In their initial request for a special master, Cohen's attorneys said thousands of the seized documents might be covered by attorney-client privilege.

Rachel Maimin, an assistant US attorney, said her office was still trying to access files from two Blackberry devices, which Cohen believed belonged to his wife almost a decade ago, and the contents of a shredding machine. 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. "I had to send him home".

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The June 15 deadline to review documents seized from Cohen was a month sooner than Cohen's lawyers had wanted.

Jones, a retired judge who served on the federal bench for 16 years in the Southern District of NY, is a former organized-crime prosecutor who was chief assistant to Robert M. Morgenthau, a longtime Manhattan district attorney.

After some consultation with Cohen, Harrison told the judge that he could not because the Blackberries were roughly eight years old and that one or both may have been Cohen's wife.

Ryan has also raised Avenatti's own legal issues, most recently a $10 million judgment against one of his firms, Eagan Avenatti, by a federal bankruptcy judge in California. Ryan protested that the barrage was improper, saying Avenatti was on television at least 170 times, mostly to badmouth Cohen. Ryan said, "Candidly, he shouldn't be asking us to answer questions; he should be asked to answer questions". He meant to prejudice and cause harm, and he did.

"As a result of our efforts, there was a shocking admission that was made in court today, namely, that just like the Nixon tapes, we now have what I will refer to as the Trump tapes", he said.

"It's important for the court to balance the slow, deliberate needs of those who are asserting attorney-client privilege", Wood said, "with the needs for an investigation to go forward".

"The irony of that, your honor, is fairly palpable", Avenatti said. Avenatti had accused Cohen's attorneys of leaking a recording to the press, during which Cohen is speaking with Clifford's former attorney Keith Davidson. "My client's voice is not on the tapes, to the best of our knowledge".

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