A federal judge on Thursday appointed a special master to review material seized from the office and residences of President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen, acceding to his request that an independent party review the material before federal prosecutors can access to it.
The decision, a win for Cohen, came after prosecutors quickly pounced on comments Trump made Thursday morning that the lawyer performed little legal work for him, to undercut Cohen’s argument that much of the material was protected by attorney-client privilege.
U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood appointed retired federal judge Barbara Jones to serve in the special-master role to assess whether the documents include any confidential communications between Cohen and his legal clients, including Trump.
Wood said Jones was prepared to meet with lawyers from both sides next week to work out the process. She laid out a schedule of about four weeks for the special master and Cohen’s attorneys to review the material.
Attorneys for Cohen and Trump have been fighting to prevent prosecutors from having unfettered access to thousands of documents that were seized from Cohen earlier this month as part of an ongoing criminal investigation into the lawyer and his personal business.
In a letter to the court filed in advance of the hearing, prosecutors cited Trump’s comments early Thursday on the cable show”Fox and Friends” in which he said Cohen has performed only a “tiny, tiny little fraction” of the president’s legal work.
Prosecutors argued that Trump’s remarks proved that relatively few of the seized documents were likely to be privileged communications between the two men.
(c) 2018, The Washington Post · Devlin Barrett, Rosalind S. Helderman