NY prosecutors blast Cohen request on seized evidence

New York prosecutors on Friday excoriated President TrumpDonald John TrumpA better VA, with mental health services, is essential for America's veterans Pelosi, Nadler tangle on impeachment, contempt vote Trump arrives in Japan to kick off 4-day state visit MORE's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, over his request to screen information seized by FBI agents during Monday raids on his office, home and hotel room.

In Friday's court filing, the prosecutors confirm for the first time that Cohen has been under criminal investigation for months.


Assistant U.S. attorneys said there was no legal justification for a defense attorney to receive seized evidence and produce to prosecutors what he personally believes isn't covered by attorney–client privilege.

"Cohen now seeks the extraordinary remedy of preventing the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York ... from reviewing lawfully obtained evidence of Cohen’s alleged criminal conduct," the filing reads.

"This request is unprecedented and is not supported by case law in this Circuit," the filing continues.

The information gathered Monday, the attorneys say, largely relates to Cohen's own business dealings and not his communications with Trump.

"The information gathered thus far in the investigation suggests that the overwhelming majority of evidence seized during the searches will not be privileged material, but rather will relate to Cohen’s business dealings," the filing reads.

Trump has sharply criticized the FBI over Monday's raid, which the president called a "disgrace" and an "attack" on the country.

Trump and his supporters argue that the raid on his attorney's office violated attorney–client privilege, despite criminal code provisions for obtaining evidence from attorneys who are themselves under investigation for criminal activity.

"Attorney–client privilege is dead!" the president tweeted Tuesday.

Earlier Friday, Cohen had filed a request for a temporary restraining order on the evidence. 

In their response, the U.S. attorneys note that Cohen is "being investigated for criminal conduct that largely centers on his personal business dealings."

They also say "Cohen is in fact performing little to no legal work, and that zero emails were exchanged with President Trump."

Cohen has not responded to the allegations against him and has not yet been charged with a crime.

Cohen is reportedly under investigation for bank fraud and campaign finance violations over his $130,000 payment in 2016 to an adult-film star who claims to have had an extramarital affair with Trump in 2006.

Trump denies the affair and knowledge of the payment at the time, which Cohen has backed up and said did not constitute an unreported donation to the Trump campaign.

News of Monday's raid and Trump's subsequent comments have reignited suspicion that the president may be preparing to fire special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump orders more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions Trump: Democrats just want Mueller to testify for a 'do-over' Graham: Mueller investigation a 'political rectal exam' MORE, as well as Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinJake Tapper fact-checks poster Trump admin created describing Mueller investigation Jeffrey Rosen officially sworn in as deputy attorney general Democrats talk subpoena for Mueller MORE.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said this week that while Trump is not making plans to fire the special counsel, “he certainly believes that he has the power to do so.”

The raids reportedly came after a referral from Mueller's office, though the U.S. attorney's investigation is separate from the special counsel's probe.