A federal judge on Monday ruled against allowing President Trump and his attorneys to review records the FBI seized last week from his personal lawyer Michael Cohen’s home and office before allowing federal prosecutors to review them.
Instead, Judge Kimba Wood ordered federal prosecutors to assemble and index the seized records and give copies to all parties in the case, according to USA Today.
Wood issued the ruling after hearing arguments from Trump’s lawyers, Cohen’s lawyers, the Trump Organization, and the Department of Justice over what can be used in court, given attorney-client privilege, or the protection of material between an attorney and his or her client.
Trump’s lawyers argued that Trump should be able to review the records and decide what falls under attorney-client privilege.
“He is objecting that anyone other than himself” be able to make that determination, Trump attorney Joanna Hendon told the court.
Wood also denied Hendon’s request for a temporary restraining order that would block federal prosecutors from reviewing the records for their criminal investigation.
The Justice Department said it wanted a group of its own attorneys — known as a “taint team” — not conducting a criminal investigation of Cohen to review the records and decide which ones cannot be used due to attorney-client privilege.
Attorneys for Cohen suggested appointing an impartial special master to decide. Wood asked the lawyers of the opposing parties to submit a joint proposal with four names for a potential special master, who could determine what was privileged.
Wood also allowed prosecutors to electronically search the seized material to see how often names, businesses, and events appear in the records, over Hendon’s objection.
Cohen’s attorneys had filed a letter with the court that provided information about his legal work, but withheld the name of one of his three law clients. However, Wood ordered them to reveal the identity of the client, who turned out to be Sean Hannity.
Hannity later said on his radio show and on Twitter that he has only occasionally sought advice from Cohen – “almost exclusively” on real estate – and has never been represented by him or retained him for any legal matter.
Michael Cohen has never represented me in any matter. I never retained him, received an invoice, or paid legal fees. I have occasionally had brief discussions with him about legal questions about which I wanted his input and perspective.
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) April 16, 2018
“I’ve known Michael a long, long time. And let me be very clear to the media: Michael has never represented me in any matter. I’ve never been a client in the traditional sense,” he said on his radio show Monday.
Hannity had not previously disclosed his relationship with Cohen, although he attacked the FBI raid on his home and office last week.
The third Cohen client is Elliott Broidy, a prominent Republican fundraiser. Cohen helped arrange a $1.6 million payment to a Playboy model who Broidy allegedly impregnated.
Stormy Daniels, the porn star who claims to have had a one-time affair with Trump in 2006, showed up in the court room. Cohen has acknowledged paying her $130,000 in the weeks before the 2016 election, as part of a non-disclosure agreement.
The FBI raided Cohen’s home, office, and the hotel room in which he was staying during renovations to his home, last Monday. Investigators were reportedly looking for information related to his payment to Daniels and another former Playboy model, Karen McDougal.
Investigators were also reportedly looking for information on bank fraud and campaign violations.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller had made the referral — with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s permission — to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, which sought a warrant for the raid.
The raid prompted speculation that Mueller, or Rosenstein, would soon be fired for overstepping the bounds of the special counsel investigation — which is investigating Russian meddling and any potential collusion by the Trump campaign.