Lawyer: Trump to aid raids’ attorney-client privilege review
NEW YORK (AP) — A lawyer for President Donald Trump said Wednesday that the president is ready to help recommend what materials seized from his personal attorney that relate to him should be withheld from federal investigators because of attorney-client privilege.
The lawyer, Joanna Hendon, said the president would assist a team of attorneys with experience at handling large document reviews.
“Our client will make himself available, as needed, to aid in our privilege review on his behalf,” the former federal prosecutor wrote to U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood.
Hendon’s letter came after Wood set a hearing for Thursday on the matter, asking lawyers for Trump and the president’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, to explain how they will review materials being turned over to them by prosecutors.
Cohen’s home and office were raided April 9 in what prosecutors later revealed was a fraud investigation.
Wood directed prosecutors to provide an update Thursday on how fast they are providing Cohen’s lawyers with a copy of the seized materials to consider what they believe is subject to attorney-client privilege and therefore should be withheld from federal investigators and prosecutors.
She also asked for lawyers to tell her how they believe an independent “special master” can aid the process, though she did not yet commit to appointing one.
Wood had asked lawyers for Cohen, Trump and the Trump Organization to submit letters on Wednesday describing the resources they have to expeditiously produce information to a special master to decide what documents or devices should be withheld.
Lawyers for Cohen said told the judge that a “war room” of lawyers capable of working around the clock was waiting for what prosecutors had said would be the first shipment of materials by overnight mail on Wednesday. By 4 p.m., though, nothing had arrived. They also used the letter to recommend again that a special master be appointed and that the judge ultimately decide any issues that remain in dispute.
Hendon had opposed the appointment of a special master, saying attorneys for Trump and Cohen should get to make the first call on what is privileged. That idea was rejected by the judge, who said at a hearing last week that a special master will likely have some role in the process.
The Trump Organization notified Wood that it has “abundant resources” to process and review materials it receives from Cohen’s lawyers.
Attorney Alan Futerfas wrote that it planned to scan documents by date, sender, recipient, key words and other metrics to review any materials related to the Trump Organization that the Trump team believes is subject to attorney-client privilege.
Prosecutors have complained that Cohen might try to delay the investigation by slowing the review of seized documents.
The judge said she believes a process can be designed to ensure fairness without unnecessary delay.
Wood, a former chief judge in Manhattan, is unlikely to preside over any criminal case that results from the probe, because a judge would be selected randomly from dozens of judges should anyone be arrested.