By LARRY NEUMEISTER
NEW YORK (AP) — The tiny portion of materials seized in a raid that have been kept so far from prosecutors probing President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney mainly pertain to his communications with other lawyers in which he sought or received legal advice, a judge said Friday.
U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood made the disclosure in a Manhattan court filing in litigation started by New York attorney Michael Cohen as he sought to shield some materials seized from him in April raids.
Prosecutors have said they are scrutinizing Cohen’s personal business dealings. He has not been charged.
Wood gave her approval to the designation of 161 items so far as subject to attorney-client privilege out of over 300,000 items found on phones and eight boxes of materials taken from Cohen’s home and office.
The items were a minuscule portion of less than 10 percent of the 3.7 million electronic files that were being analyzed by lawyers for Cohen, Trump and the Trump Organization.
The judge said 112 of the 161 items were text messages and 28 were emails between Cohen and his lawyers in which they exchange legal advice. She said the items also included seven email communications between Cohen and a client and one involved a client asking Cohen in an email to initiate legal representation. Nine were legal memoranda from Cohen’s lawyers providing legal advice to Cohen or one of his clients, Wood said.
Wood said seven documents concerned Cohen’s family and were not relevant to the government’s investigation. She said they were in addition to the 161 items disqualified because of attorney-client privilege.
It was unclear how much could be read into the small number of designations because at least a few of the over two dozen phones and electronic storage devices seized in the raids were not his.
But lawyers for Cohen and Trump had argued last month that a significant amount of materials might be subject to the privilege and extra vigilance was needed. To be cautious, Wood appointed a former federal judge, Barbara Jones, to serve as a special master and oversee the privilege-designating process even though she said she believed a special “taint team” of prosecutors walled off from the criminal prosecutors could do the work.
Wood said Friday that she was giving lawyers for Trump, Cohen and the Trump Organization until June 27 to finish making their designations on any materials they’ve received. She has said she might let the “taint team” take over at some point.