Trump Called Michael Cohen as Their Lawyers Went to Court Over Seized Trump Documents
THIS IS TOTALLY INSANE!
President Trump phoned his longtime confidant, Michael D. Cohen, to “check in” on Friday as lawyers for the two men went to court to block the Justice Department from reading seized documents related to Mr. Cohen’s decade of work for Mr. Trump, according to two people familiar with the call.
It is not clear what else they discussed in a call that came days after a series of F.B.I. raids. Depending on what was said, the call could be problematic for both men, as defense lawyers often advise their clients not to talk to each other during investigations. Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen still were trying to determine what exactly was seized.
The raids were even broader than have been previously reported. Prosecutors said the raids were part of a monthslong investigation into Mr. Cohen. In addition to searching Mr. Cohen’s office and hotel room, prosecutors also obtained warrants to seize material from his cellphones, tablet, laptop and a safe deposit box, according to people briefed on the warrants.
“The searches are the result of a monthslong investigation into Cohen, and seek evidence of crimes, many of which have nothing to do with his work as an attorney, but rather relate to Cohen’s own business dealings,” federal prosecutors wrote in court papers filed on Friday.
The court papers also disclosed that prosecutors — before the raids on Monday — had already obtained secret search warrants for several of Mr. Cohen’s email accounts as part of what they said was a grand jury investigation.
The uncertainty around what was taken has heightened the unease around Mr. Trump, whose lawyers had projected confidence in their dealings with the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, but were caught flat-footed by the extraordinary raids on Mr. Cohen. The lawyers fear that Mr. Cohen will not be forthcoming about what was in his files, leaving them girding for the unknown.
A hurriedly scheduled court appearance in Manhattan on Friday reflected that worry. The seized documents could shed light on the president’s relationship with Mr. Cohen who has helped steer him through some of his thorniest personal and business dilemmas. Joanna C. Hendon, a lawyer for Mr. Trump, asked a federal judge to temporarily prohibit the Justice Department from reviewing those materials until the matter can be litigated.
“Those searches have been executed and the evidence is locked down. I’m not trying to delay,” Ms. Hendon said. “I’m just trying to ensure that it’s done scrupulously.”
Mr. Cohen wants his lawyers to be able to review the files and withhold privileged material before prosecutors can see them. As an alternative, he asked that an independent lawyer be allowed to review the files first, which prosecutors said would delay the investigation. Prosecutors argued in their court filing that the request by Mr. Cohen’s lawyer “belies the true intent of his motion: To delay the case” and “deprive” prosecutors of evidence. Judge Kimba M. Wood of United States District Court postponed any decision until a follow-up hearing Monday.