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- The special master overseeing the document review in the federal investigation into Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former longtime lawyer, issued her final report Thursday.
- Just about 0.2% of the more than 4 million documents seized by the FBI in April raids on Cohen’s properties were deemed privileged by the special master.
- Prosecutors are able to use the remaining documents in a potential prosecution of Cohen.
The special master overseeing the document review in the federal investigation into Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former longtime lawyer, has ruled that roughly 0.2% of the more than 4 million documents seized by the FBI from the attorney are covered by attorney-client privilege.
Barbara Jones, a retired federal judge appointed to oversee the review, wrote in her final report to US District Judge Kimba Wood on Thursday that nearly 7,500 documents were either privileged, highly personal, or partially privileged. Cohen claimed privilege over slightly more than 12,000 of the 4 million-plus documents, and is not challenging any of Jones’s rulings with Wood.
In a filing that was posted shortly after Jones’s final report, Wood wrote that the parties must file any objections to Jones’s determinations to the court by Friday evening.
Cohen is the focus of a criminal investigation in the Southern District of New York 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 porn star 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.
Last month, 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 month that the remaining recordings featured conversations between Cohen and third parties about Trump, not direct discussions between Trump and Cohen.