Federal prosecutors sorting through materials seized from Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, said Wednesday they needed more time to piece together the contents of a shredder taken in an FBI raid.
At a court hearing in New York, prosecutors told U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood that they’d turned over most of the materials seized during the April 9 raids of Cohen’s office and Park Avenue hotel room to Cohen’s legal team, with the exception of two BlackBerry devices and the shredded documents.
Prosecutors explained, however, that they would need two to three more weeks to finish reconstructing what was in the shredder, and that they were still trying to access the BlackBerrys.
Wood set a June 15 deadline on Wednesday for Cohen’s lawyers to review everything the government had already provided before submitting attorney-client privilege claims to special master Barbara Jones, who was appointed by Wood to rule on what documents will qualify.
The FBI seized eight boxes of documents, four phones, one iPad and several hard drives and storage devices during the April raids, seeking information about a $130,000 payment Cohen made to porn star Stormy Daniels shortly before the 2016 election.
Jones, in a Tuesday court filing, said she’d reviewed more than 292,000 items from the raids so far and had already turned over portions of those materials to government investigators.
Jones said the seized materials had been divided into four groups: privileged materials, partially privileged materials, nonprivileged materials and highly personal materials. She described the “highly personal materials” category as containing “medical records or similar materials.”
Jones said in the filing she is not reviewing all the materials that have come in. Unless Cohen, Trump or the Trump Organization mark the material as privileged or highly personal, she is releasing the material to the federal government as soon as it is available, she said in the filing.
So far, Jones said, 252 items were designated privileged by Cohen, Trump (through his attorneys) or the Trump Organization.
Wood said Wednesday that if the June 15 deadline was not met, she would send the remainder of the unreviewed materials to a separate team of prosecutors, known as a “taint team,” who would then deem what is privileged and what isn’t.
Todd Harrison, one of Cohen’s lawyers, told the judge that his team was “moving heaven and earth” and working nearly around the clock to review the materials that the government has turned over.
According to Harrison, prosecutors have already turned over 3.7 million items to their legal team. Cohen’s team, Harrison said, had reviewed 1.3 million of those items.