Only a minuscule percentage of the materials seized from President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen in April have been determined to be protected by attorney-client privilege so far, according to a new report from a court-appointed special master.
Special master Barbara Jones, in a report to U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood, said her review of thousands of items included in eight boxes, iPhones and an iPad has identified only .054 percent — a tiny fraction of 1 percent — as privileged based on claims from Cohen, Trump and the Trump Organization.
Cohen, who paid $130,000 to porn actress Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about an alleged Trump affair, is being probed for fraud-related offenses in his personal business and also received six-figure payments from several companies with government business after Trump’s election.
After the April 9 raid on Cohen’s home, office, hotel room and safe deposit box, he sued to block prosecutors from looking at his files until privileged materials are weeded out. With potentially sensitive files on the president included, Trump and the Trump Organization joined the case.
Jones’ report echoes prosecutors’ claim that Cohen didn’t have a traditional law practice, and many items would be business records not subject to the attorney-client privilege. Privileged items can also lose their protection if they involve crime or fraud.
She said the eight boxes had 639 items totaling 12,543 pages, and she had approved claims of privilege on 14 items while disapproving three. The electronic devices, she said, had 291,770 total items, with 148 privileged or partly privileged, and another seven protected as “highly personal.”
Lawyers for Cohen are still processing and making privilege claims to Jones on more than 3.7 million files copied to them by the government from hard drives and other electronic devices, and prosecutors have not yet provided items from a shredder and two BlackBerrys.
Wood has given Cohen’s team until June 15 to complete their review, and says she plans to let a government team walled off from prosecutors to complete the screening of any remaining items.
Cohen has not been charged with any crime.