President Donald Trump suffered a setback as a federal judge rejected his initial request to keep prosecutors from reviewing evidence seized last week from his longtime personal lawyer.
U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood said Monday she was open to appointing an impartial “special master” to review the seized materials before they’re handed over to prosecutors, as requested by Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, but not by Trump himself. The judge also said she would consider U.S. prosecutors’ plan to have a team of independent government lawyers review the materials.
Wood left the matter unresolved and gave both sides until Wednesday to submit possible candidates for a special master to review what might be covered by the attorney-client privilege. She also asked the prosecution team to get a precise estimate on how long their proposed vetting group, a so-called taint team, would need to go through everything and sort out what’s relevant and what’s privileged.
Lawyers for Trump, Cohen and the government spent three hours on Monday arguing in a Manhattan courtroom over whether prosecutors investigating Cohen could go through evidence and electronics seized in an April 9 raid of his office, home, hotel room and safety-deposit box.
The hearing, which generated sensational media attention, failed to deliver the sizzle expected with the presence of adult film star Stormy Daniels, who sat slumped in the back of the courthouse.
The biggest revelation was that Cohen had also represented Sean Hannity, the “Fox News” commentator who for the last week has decried the Cohen raids. Cohen had declined to name the client for privacy reasons, but the judge ordered him to provide a name.
Daniels claims she had sex with Trump in 2006 and took a $130,000 hush payment from Cohen shortly before the 2016 election. Cohen has said he made the payment from his own account.
“This ends now,” Daniels, accompanied by her lawyer, told reporters outside the courtroom. “My attorney and I are committed to making sure that everyone finds out the truth and the facts of what happened, and I give my word we will not rest until that happens.”
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