Judge Kimba Wood on Wednesday set a June 15 deadline for President Donald Trump and Michael Cohen to make attorney-client privilege claims from a stash of millions of materials seized by the FBI last month, news outlets reported.
The decision ramps up pressure on Cohen’s legal team, which had asked for the opportunity to review documents until mid-July, and Trump’s lawyers to complete the task.
The Associated Press reported that Wood said that if the review wasn’t completed in time, she would hand the work over to a prosecutorial filter team. Cohen’s attorneys had successfully argued that a special master needed to review the documents and review privilege claims rather than a filter team to prevent “even the appearance of impropriety.”
While Wood sided with Cohen’s lawyers and agreed to appoint special master Barbara Jones, she has repeatedly said that she had full confidence in the independence of a filter team. That team would be a group of prosecutors working separately from the investigation of Cohen who would look through the documents and make determinations about what might constitute attorney-client privileged communications that would then be adjudicated by the judge if there were any disputes.
Prosecutors reportedly told Wood’s court that only two blackberries and the contents of a shredder had yet to be turned over to Jones.
Cohen attorney Todd Harrison told the court that 1.3 million of 3.7 million files had already been reviewed Cohen’s team, according to Reuters.
According to a court filing by Jones, Trump and Cohen had made at least 252 claims of privilege so far. Among the items that have been given to her for review by the teams of Trump or Cohen are “electronic images” and “electronic data from a video recorder” that includes “various video.”
On Tuesday, Jones submitted a $47,390 invoice for the work she had done between April 24–April 30, the cost of which is being split between Cohen and the government.
Another part of the court proceeding on Wednesday involved a dispute between Cohen’s attorneys and Stormy Daniels attorney Michael Avenatti.
Avenatti had been seeking to be admitted pro hac vice to the proceedings. Cohen’s attorneys had argued in a briefing that he had created a “deliberate creation of a carnival atmosphere.” Wood appeared to partly side with them, requesting Avenatti halt his publicity tour if he wanted to be allowed into proceedings.
“I say publicity tour not in a derogatory sense,” Wood said, according to the Hill. “You’re entitled to publicity, I can’t stop you—unless you’re participating in a matter before me.”
After the hearing, Avenatti withdrew this request. On MSNBC, he stated that it was not necessary to maintain the request while his client’s separate request to intervene in the case was being held in abeyance while she awaited a hearing.
Avenatti also told the network that audio recordings of conversations taken by Cohen and currently under review contained a discussion between Cohen and Daniels’ former attorney, Keith Davidson, in which Avenatti alleges Davidson violated Daniels’ attorney-client privilege. He also suggested that some of those tapes included the president’s voice.