September 17, 2019
Manhattan New York

Prosecutors: Cohen raid materials to be shared by May 11

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NEW YORK — Federal prosecutors said Wednesday they can give President Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, copies of most of the materials seized from him by the FBI by May 11.

The US attorney’s office in New York told US District Judge Kimba Wood that it can begin turning over materials on April 27.

It expects most of the items to be shared within two weeks, though it could take longer to extract information from seized telephones, the letter said.

Prosecutors have disclosed they are investigating Cohen’s personal business dealings for fraud but haven’t said what crime they believe he has committed. Cohen’s lawyers have called the raid an assault on attorney-client privilege.

Wood said at a hearing Monday that she might grant a request by Cohen’s attorneys to appoint a neutral lawyer known as a ‘‘special master’’ to help resolve some conflicts over attorney-client privilege, though she said she anticipated that person would have a limited role.

Prosecutors recommended she set a May 25 date for a court conference to decide the issue.

Each side suggested several candidates for special master on Wednesday. Among names offered by Cohen’s lawyers was Bart M. Schwartz, an attorney who once worked as chief of the criminal division when former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani was the US attorney in Manhattan in the 1980s.

Giuliani campaigned with Trump during his 2016 run to the presidency.

Prosecutors offered the names of three retired magistrate judges they said had plenty of experience at resolving attorney-client privilege issues.

And they reiterated their argument that they don’t believe the appointment of a special master is necessary.

Prosecutors said a special master probably could not start working until at least June, delaying the review of materials seized pursuant to a warrant issued this month.

At Monday’s hearing, Wood called it a ‘‘viable option’’ to let lawyers at the prosecutor’s office who are not part of the criminal probe review seized materials for anything subject to attorney-client privilege.

‘‘I have faith in the Southern District US Attorney’s Office that their integrity is unimpeachable,’’ she said.

But Wood added: ‘‘In terms of perception of fairness, not fairness itself, but perception of fairness, a special master might have a role here. Maybe not the complete role, but some role. My interest is in getting this moving efficiently and speedily.’’

 

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