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- A retired judge is reviewing documents in the legal proceedings involving President Donald Trump’s former longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen, to determine whether they fall under attorney-client privilege.
- So far, she has ruled that 44% of the documents from Cohen are not privileged.
- Cohen isn’t challenging any of her rulings in court.
- She has reviewed more than 7,100 documents.
The special master overseeing the document review in the federal investigation into Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former longtime lawyer, has ruled that nearly half of documents in question are not covered by attorney-client privilege.
Barbara Jones, a retired federal judge appointed to oversee the review, has ruled that more than 4,000 of the roughly 7,100 documents she has considered for such designations are, in fact, privileged.
In her most recent filing to US District Judge Kimba Wood, which Jones authored on Saturday, the special master ruled that 648 of 1,642 items she reviewed were privileged or partially privileged. The remaining 994 were not.
Cohen has not challenged any of these rulings with Wood, who is presiding over the Southern District of New York case, though he has disagreed with Jones on a small fraction of her decisions.
Cohen is the focus of a criminal investigation into whether he violated campaign-finance laws, committed bank fraud or wire fraud, engaged in illegal lobbying, or participated in other crimes. The FBI raided Cohen’s home, hotel room, and office in April, seizing more than 4 million documents from Trump’s longtime lawyer.
At the center of Cohen’s troubles is a $130,000 hush-money payment he facilitated weeks before the 2016 presidential election to the adult-film actress Stormy Daniels to keep her from talking about her allegation of a 2006 affair with Trump, which Trump has denied. The FBI sought documents related to that payment and other similar agreements with other women.
In April, Cohen and his lawyers successfully argued for the appointment of a special master, allowing them, Trump’s attorneys, and the Trump Organization to identify documents protected by attorney-client privilege. In late June, Cohen’s attorneys laid out in a filing that they claimed privilege on more than 12,000 documents. Jones’ review of the privilege designations is ongoing after just recently passing the midway point.
Last week, the president’s attorneys withdrew privilege claims over a dozen audio tapes the FBI seized from Cohen. As a result, those recordings have been turned over to prosecutors.
On one of the tapes, which was provided to CNN by Cohen’s attorney Lanny Davis, Cohen and Trump discuss buying the rights to the story of a former Playboy model, Karen McDougal, who says she had an affair with Trump in 2006. The tape was said to be recorded without Trump’s knowledge. Its publication could complicate Cohen’s efforts to seek a deal with the government.
A person close to Trump’s legal team who had heard the tapes told Business Insider last week that the remaining recordings featured conversations between Cohen and third parties about Trump, not direct discussions between Trump and Cohen.