Michael Cohen seeks to withhold identity of mystery client

President Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen exits a hotel in New York City

President Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen exits a hotel in New York City

President Trump suggested Sunday that the recent Federal Bureau of Investigation raid on personal attorney Michael Cohen has left "all" lawyers "deflated and concerned" and reduced attorney-client privilege to "a thing of the past".

'A search of the files of an attorney is considered among the most sensitive moves federal prosecutors can make as they pursue a criminal investigation, and U.S. Department of Justice guidelines (see 9-13.420 - Searches of Premises of Subject Attorneys) require the express approval of the U.S. attorney or pertinent assistant attorney general.

The FBI executed search warrants last week on Cohen's office, home, security deposit box and hotel room.

Daniels's attorney, Michael Avenatti, said that she plans to be in the courtroom.

Trump biographer Tim O'Brien said Cohen wasn't the biggest fish in the Trump Organization, and he identified two company officials whose activity could also fall under investigation.

However, after Cohen spoke about paying Daniels $130,000, she claimed the agreement had been breached, setting her free to tell her story about her alleged physical encounters with the president.

The Cohen raid, conducted by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents with a search warrant a week ago, sought evidence of those payments, which could violate laws on bank fraud and campaign contributions.

At issue is exactly who gets to look at Cohen's seized documents and devices before they are turned over to prosecutors.

Cohen's lawyers have called the raid "completely unprecedented" and asked the judge to let their lawyers review the documents or put in place a special master to comb through the seized material and separate communications that should be protected by attorney client privilege.

However, though Avenatti said Daniels's presence at the court had nothing to do with making an impact on Cohen psychologically, he tweeted on Sunday morning a scene from the film "The Godfather II" where a Mafia turncoat retracted his testimony after mafia boss Michael Corleone brought the former's own brother with him to watch the court proceedings.

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"Attorney Client privilege is now a thing of the past", Trump wrote.

Trump's attorneys argue that he and Cohen should not have to rely on the government's "clean team" to review the documents to protect his privilege, as he has "a unique interest in ensuring that every privileged item is fully protected from improper disclosure".

Wood instead allowed prosecutors to move forward with the initial stages of the review.

Prosecutors say they've set up what's known as a "taint team" or "filter team" to review Cohen's documents so nothing they seized is used improperly or breaches client confidentiality.

Todd Harrison, a lawyer for Cohen, said at Friday's hearing that "thousands" of documents seized were likely privileged, and that many related to clients other than Trump.

All the same, this legal back and forth over the potential review, she added, is "highly, highly unusual".

President Trump's attorneys want a federal judge to throw out all evidence seized in the raid on his personal attorney Michael Cohen's home and office last week.

Cohen could also try to defy the court order and not turn over a list of his clients at all.

U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood has scheduled a hearing in the case for Monday afternoon.

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