On Friday, the Justice Department revealed that Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, is under criminal investigation. And Trump’s advisors are reportedly more concerned about the potential threats to his presidency posed by this investigation than special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into possible Russian collusion.
Now, the president’s legal team has made what’s considered an extraordinary request that may delay the Cohen investigation.
They’ve reportedly asked a judge to block Trump’s own Justice Department from seeing evidence about Cohen, Trump’s private lawyer, that the FBI seized in a raid last week, reports Bloomberg. Trump’s attorneys filed papers on Sunday that would temporarily keep the Justice Department from reviewing the materials gained from an April 9 raid of Cohen’s home and office.
Trump’s lawyers have argued that some of the material seized could involve communications between the president and Cohen and therefore should be reviewed first by Trump. Meanwhile, prosecutors suggest that a separate group of government lawyers should “review the material first and determine what’s covered by the attorney-client privilege,” reports Bloomberg.
Joanna Hendon, Trump’s attorney, wrote an eight-page letter to the judge, noting that the question for the court is who “should perform the initial review of the seized materials.” She explained that the choice is between a “team consisting of colleagues of the prosecutors assigned to this investigation, or the president, who is the holder of the privilege.”
She accuses the Justice Department of acting in an “aggressive, intrusive, and unorthodox manner,” and eliminating Trump’s “right to a full assertion of every privilege argument available to him.”
The prosecutors investigating Cohen have not provided any details about what they are probing, but it reportedly relates to “acts of concealment” by the president’s attorney. The Washington Post has reported that Cohen is being investigated for possible bank fraud, wire fraud, and campaign finance violations.
Cohen has simultaneously sought a delay in the defamation lawsuit brought by porn star Stormy Daniels, citing the raids and noting that “an ongoing criminal investigation overlaps with the facts of this case.”