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Michael Cohen documents: 3,100 not privileged, special master rules

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Michael Cohen
Michael Cohen.
Drew
Angerer/Getty Images


  • 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. 

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