New York(April 14, 2018): Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, has been “under criminal investigation” for months in New York because of his business dealings, the Justice Department said Friday.
The revelation comes amid a courtroom drama that unfolded Friday, as Cohen’s attorneys and Trump’s attorneys began a fight hours before with the US Attorney’s Office in Manhattan over a massive raid of Cohen’s records.Cohen’s attorneys have filed a temporary restraining order in the matter, asking the court to stop federal prosecutors from using some of the records they seized. Cohen did not appear in court Friday morning and has not been charged with a crime.
In response to Cohen’s motion to prevent prosecutors from using evidence collected in Monday’s raids of his home and office, the US attorney in New York asserted the raids were authorized by a federal judge to seek evidence of conduct “for which Cohen is under criminal investigation.”But the filing contains the first details released by the Justice Department on the searches, which covered Cohen’s residence, hotel room, office, safety deposit boxes and two cell phones. Previous search warrants allowed New York federal prosecutors to search multiple email accounts, the filing said. In them, they found that Cohen had done “little to no legal work, and that zero emails were exchanged with President Trump.”
The prosecutors assert that they have confidence that any seized material would not fall under the significant amount of attorney-client privilege that Cohen has claimed. They said Cohen has told at least one witness that his only client was Trump.Joanna Hendon, a new lawyer for Trump who appeared in court, said her law firm, Spears & Imes LLP, was engaged by Trump on Wednesday and she was “not prepared” to present her argument.
Michael Avenatti, a lawyer for Stormy Daniels, also made an appearance at the hearing. In a footnote in its filing, the prosecutors expressed doubt that any communications between Trump and Cohen regarding a payoff to Daniels before the election would be covered under attorney-client privilege. They cited the President’s own comments.