A recent popular meme reinterprets President Trump’s favorite abbreviation, M.A.G.A., from “Make America Great Again” to “Making Attorneys Get Attorneys.”
Today the Justice Department did just that with the announcement that Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen is under criminal investigation, according to CNN.
The announcement was included in a filing related to Cohen’s motion to suppress the evidence seized from his home, office, and hotel room on Monday by federal agents in a surprise raid.
In his response to the motion, the US attorney in New York asserted the raids were authorized by a federal judge to seek evidence of conduct “for which Cohen is under criminal investigation.” Exactly what the presidential attorney is under investigation for is redacted from the public release of the Justice Department filing.
The materials that were taken from Cohen include “electronic devices” as well as files and records relating to his efforts to eliminate the chance of negative information about Donald Trump from leaking during his campaign for president, including both the Stormy Daniels affair and the infamous Access Hollywood tape. Also seized were files relating to Cohen’s business brokering New York City taxi medallions.
The lawyers representing Cohen have filed a temporary restraining order in the case, claiming that the seized materials were protected by attorney-client privilege. However, that assertion was completely undermined by President Trump’s statement to the press this week that he knew nothing about any payments to Stormy Daniels, so in that matter at least, no attorney-client privilege exists.
Despite claiming that he had no knowledge of the payment to Daniels, Trump nevertheless sent a lawyer to represent him before the judge deciding the fate of Cohen’s impounded evidence.
Trump’s attorney, Joanna Hendon, along with Cohen’s attorney, Todd Harrison, asked the judge for an adjournment so they could review Justice Department filing. According to CNN:
“Hendon says her firm, Spears & Imes LLP, was engaged by Trump on Wednesday and she was ‘not prepared’ to present her argument.”
The Justice Department prosecutors are seeking to set up a “taint team,” a separate group of lawyers who would to review the confiscated materials to ensure that no documents covered by attorney-client privilege are seen by the prosecution.
The court order to enable the raid on Cohen’s office and residences was given by a judge who would have had to have been presented evidence of criminal conduct that would supercede attorney-client privilege or evidence of a credible belief that documents or other materials that could provide evidence in the case were in danger of being destroyed in order to approve the raid.
With the Washington rumor mill buzzing that included in the seized materials from Cohen were audio tapes of conversations that the lawyer reportedly habitually made of his phone calls and meetings, the confiscated evidence could contain a treasure trove for prosecutors once the team reviews and releases the cleared materials to them.
Until then, we’ll have to wait for the judge’s decision regarding the restraining order sought by Cohen’s and Trump’s lawyers.
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