Lawyers for Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, could begin receiving documents and materials seized in the FBI raid as soon as next Friday, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Prosecutors with the US attorney’s office in Manhattan said in a letter that they expect to begin rolling production of material to Cohen’s attorneys by April 27 and could complete production by May 11. Downloads of some of Cohen’s seized cell phones could take longer, they said.
Judge Kimba Wood has instructed prosecutors to send copies of the seized material to Cohen while she considers how to vet the documents and electronic devices for attorney-client privilege. She also asked both sides to submit names of people independent from the investigation who could potentially serve as a special master and review the material. This came after Cohen’s attorneys asked the judge to grant a temporary restraining order to prevent prosecutors from looking at the seized documents.
On Wednesday, prosecutors suggested three former judges who are available for the work but reiterated that it did not think such an appointment was necessary. The retired judges – Frank Maas, James Francis and Theodore Katz – all served as magistrate judges in the Southern District of New York, in the same courthouse where the case is being heard.
Cohen’s attorneys nominated four former assistant US attorneys in Manhattan who are known to officials in the US attorney’s office. Cohen recommended Bart Schwartz, a former prosecutor who built a practice serving as an independent monitor ensuring compliance with government settlements at Deutsche Bank and General Motors; Joan McPhee, a former deputy chief of appeals for the US attorney’s office in Manhattan; Tai Park, a former assistant US attorney in Manhattan; and George Canellos, a former co-director of enforcement at the Securities and Exchange Commission and a former assistant US attorney in Manhattan.
On Monday, Wood denied Cohen’s request for a temporary restraining order saying it was moot because she was allowing Cohen to review the documents and would decide later how the prosecution would be allowed to use them.
Prosecutors would prefer the judge to allow a group of attorneys separate from the investigation, or a taint team, to review the material for confidential communications Cohen had with clients that may be protected by attorney client privilege.
Cohen’s lawyers asked the judge to allow them to review the material or appoint a special master to conduct the review. An attorney for Trump opposed a special master and asked that the president be allowed to review the material and decide what is privileged material.