President Donald Trump has been furious with the FBI ever since the raid on the office of his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, resulting in the confiscation of all client-related documents. Now, he is fighting back.
Trump’s lawyers have filed a letter, calling to halt the prosecutors’ use of the documents seized in the raid until Trump and Cohen have a chance to exclude material that cannot be used in court on the basis of attorney-client privilege.
"The president objects to the government's proposal to use a 'taint team' of prosecutors from the very office that is investigating this matter to conduct the privilege review of documents seized from his own lawyer's office,” the letter read.
A taint team is essentially responsible for protecting attorney-client privilege, more precisely, if the confiscated documents from a lawyer hold privileged information that is unrelated to the case, the taint team makes sure the prosecutor does not access that information so that it may not play a role in “tainting” their judgment.
The team comprises individuals who are not directly linked to the ongoing investigation, whether it be agents or lawyers, to make sure the process is carried out without any bias.
The letter requested the court provide a copy of all seized documents to Trump and allow him to assert privilege over his chosen documents so they may not be disclosed. The taint team would be allowed to object to any of the documents that the president claims privilege on.
"The question now before the Court is, who should perform the initial review of the seized materials to assess whether they are, or are not, subject to a valid claim of privilege: a taint team consisting of colleagues of the prosecutors assigned to this investigation, or the President, who is the holder of the privilege, and as such, has a unique interest in assuring that every privileged item is fully protected from improper disclosure. The question answers itself,” the letter stated.
After the FBI conducted a raid on Cohen’s Office, Trump took Twitter to convey his dismay. “Attorney client privilege is dead,” he exclaimed.
Attorney–client privilege is dead!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 10, 2018
The FBI has not yet signaled what law Cohen has broken but only that he is under investigation for his business activities. The documents seized in the raid could very well include the conformation to the alleged $130,000 paid as “hush money” to adult actress Stormy Daniels for her affair with Trump in the final days of his presidential election campaign in 2016. The items confiscated may also include the infamous “Access Hollywood” tapes.
On April 15, Trump reiterated how all lawyers are “deflated and concerned,” now that “attorney-client privilege is a thing of the past.”
Attorney Client privilege is now a thing of the past. I have many (too many!) lawyers and they are probably wondering when their offices, and even homes, are going to be raided with everything, including their phones and computers, taken. All lawyers are deflated and concerned!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 15, 2018
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/ Jonathan Ernst