Prosecutors Slam Trump Bid to Delay Cohen Case

MANHATTAN (CN) – The Trump Organization drew federal fire Monday for its request to spend two weeks reviewing material seized by the FBI from Michael Cohen, the president’s embattled attorney.

Michael Cohen arrives to court in New York on May 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

“It has been nearly three months since execution of the search warrants,” the 2-page letter from Assistant U.S. Attorney Rachel Maimin states. “Further delay will unreasonably impede the government’s investigation.”

Of the roughly one dozen phones taken from the April raid on Cohen’s home, office and hotel room, two are at the heart of the Trump Organization’s request for an extension until July 11 of the privilege review deadline.

In a June 23 affirmation, Trump Organization counsel Alan Futerfas noted that one device consists of roughly 22,000 documents retrieved using the company’s search terms. “By several orders of magnitude, [it is] the largest production to date,” Futerfas wrote.

Later on Monday, Cohen’s attorneys demonstrated their ability to meet their deadline in sifting through the more than 4 million files seized by the FBI.

Of the enormous tranche, Cohen has claimed privilege of only 12,061, less than a third of 1 percent of all files. Those assertions will go to court-appointed special master Barbara Jones, a retired federal judge who could overrule these designations.

“We are grateful for the court’s order granting our application to conduct this review and believe this was a necessary exercise to maintain the preservation of the attorney-client privilege and the work-product doctrine in this important case,” Cohen’s attorneys Todd Harrison and Steven Ryan, from the firm McDermott Will & Emery, wrote in a 3-page letter. “Our attorneys have made an enormous commitment to this project and have conducted this review and production schedule quickly and meticulously.”

Futerfas indicated that the Trump Organization would make much slower work of the files, requiring several weeks of review. The attorney also estimated three to four days as well to designate and redact a smaller number of audio files and documents from the last device.

But Maimin noted Monday that Cohen has already delayed the case to make designations, and that Futerfas made “no mention of the resources” his team has dedicated to this review or why more time would be required.

“That said, if the court is inclined to grant any adjournment, the government respectfully submits that it should be no more than one week, or until July 5, 2018, for the designation process to be completed,” Maimin wrote. “The government expects to oppose any future requests for delay in their entirety.”

A night earlier, attorney Michael Avenatti took to Twitter to slam prosecutors for canceling a meeting with his client, porn actress Stormy Daniels.

“So I was just informed by the US Attys office that they are canceling the [meeting tomorrow] scheduled with me and my client (for weeks) because the press found out about the [meeting] and they can’t handle a few cameras outside their offices,” Avenatti tweeted (parentheses in original, brackets added).

“If they consider this a big deal,” the attorney continued, “how will they ever bring any serious criminal charges against Cohen et al., let alone handle a trial, in such a high-profile matter? We have bent over backwards to accommodate them. This is unheard of. We remain willing to cooperate but something isn’t right.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York declined to comment.

Avenatti published his email to the prosecutors – with their email addresses – but not their side of the communication.

“We believe canceling the meeting because the press has now caught wind of it is ridiculous,” the message states. “We do not think it was any secret that at some point you were going to meet with my client. And the fact that cameras may be present outside of your office is of no moment. Further, this fact, while annoying, has no impact on the substance of the meeting, which should be the focus.”

U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood warned what she described as Avenatti’s “publicity tour” could imperil a fair trial should prosecutors ultimately charge Cohen.

“I don’t want you to have some existence in a limbo where you’re free to denigrate Mr. Cohen, and I believe potentially deprive him of a fair trial by tainting a jury pool,” Wood scolded Avenatti in May.

Rather than scale back his media appearances, Avenatti withdrew that day from the case.

Cohen’s investigation stands at a sensitive stage for prosecutors, as the window for privilege review draws to a close.

Anonymous sources close to Cohen have told several major news outlets that the attorney is considering cooperating with the government. Two of them – actor Tom Arnold and talking head Donny Deutsch – have gone on television all but threatening President Donald Trump that Cohen will flip.

For his part, Cohen has distanced himself from Arnold and Deutsch’s theatrics and denied the cable news reports. Other ruptures between Cohen and Trump have had less plausible deniability.

Cohen reportedly withdrew from the Republican National Committee with a letter denouncing Trump’s family-separation policy, which Cohen said reminded him of his father’s experience as a Polish Holocaust survivor.

Meanwhile, special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election keeps closing in on other prominent Trump allies. Five of the president’s allies copped guilty pleas, and 17 Russian individuals and companies have been indicted.

Mueller’s investigation of Cohen began in Washington before it was sent to the Southern District of New York.

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