Wednesday, 15 August, 2018

Cohen attorney assails Stormy Daniels' lawyer; judge sets deadline for document review

Michael Avenatti Michael Cohen Keith Davidson Porn Star’s Attorney Avenatti Battles Wall Street Journal Report Of Stonewalling Federal Prosecutors
Glenn Montgomery | 01 June, 2018, 20:15

US District Judge Kimba Wood appointed Jones as special master in late April to oversee the review, after Cohen's lawyers demanded that privileged communications seized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation be reviewed not by the government but by an outside consultant not directly affiliated with any potential prosecution.

One of Cohen's attorneys, Stephen Ryan, claimed Avenatti had committed a "drive-by shooting" against Cohen, the president's onetime "fixer", when he released "Suspicious Activity Reports" earlier this month that detailed monies paid to Cohen's shell company, Essential Consultants, for advice on how to lobby Trump.

Wood also noted that Avenatti could potentially affect whether or not Cohen is given a fair trial if the case ever gets far.

"If you participate here, you would not be able to declare your opinion as to Mr. Cohen's guilt, which you did;" she said. Ryan said that was raised because it showed that "Mr. Avenatti can not keep his agreements".

In the meantime, his request to be a part of the proceeding without officially intervening was denied.

Lawyers for Cohen said 15 attorneys plus two data experts had been working "full-time" to sort through millions of seized documents, including electronic files, to decide which should be held back, but they could not hope to finish the process before mid-July.

The judge asked Cohen's lawyer Todd Harrison if he could give the feds the passwords to the Blackberries.

His attorneys are marking documents they believe are highly personal or covered by attorney-client privilege, though the special master appointed by the judge makes the final ruling on what documents prosecutors are and are not allowed to look at for their investigation.

Federal prosecutors declined to comment on whether they would try to reassemble the contents of the shredder before turning them over or whether the very existence of a shredding machine necessitated the search warrant out of fear Cohen was attempting to destroy evidence.

In April, Trump confirmed for the first time that Cohen had represented him in the deal. Avenatti had accused Cohen's attorneys of leaking a recording to the press, during which Cohen is speaking with Clifford's former attorney Keith Davidson. But keep an open mind: Avenatti has been out ahead of the mainstream media for some time now in correctly predicting important developments in the Trump-Daniels case.

"As a result of our efforts, there was a shocking admission that was made in court today, namely, that just like the Nixon tapes, we now have what I will refer to as the Trump tapes", he said.

Hendon also took this opportunity to lay it on thick, accusing Avenatti of contradicting his own sworn affidavit submitted to the court on the matter.

Judge Wood did not rule whether Avenatti could intervene in the case.

When pressed by Tapper on why the American people should have access to Cohen's private conversations, Avenatti said, "I know for a fact that one or more of these conversations do describe things that are inappropriate". Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, has also filed suit against Cohen, claiming a non-disclosure agreement she struck with Trump is null and void.

"The relatively modest amount charged" by Jones, who is a partner at Bracewell, "confirms that there is very little privileged material for her to review and that her review is not a hard one", Riopelle said. He said they have reviewed about 1.3 million of the 3.7 million files turned over.

"It's never a good idea to be recording conversations, period, especially if you are an attorney, especially if you're dealing with sensitive information", Avenatti said.

Avenatti called those arguments "without merit and frivolous" and said it "speaks volumes that they so desperately" want him excluded from the case.

While Avenatti commanded most of the court's attention, the government and Cohen's attorneys did update the court on their progress.

But prosecutors pushed for the privilege claims to conclude by mid-June, and Wood agreed, setting the June 15 deadline with the balance of un-reviewed material going to a taint team at that time.

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