Cohen wants 4 former federal prosecutors to review material seized in FBI raid

Cohen wants 4 former federal prosecutors to review material seized in FBI raid

President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen has suggested four former federal prosecutors serve as special master to review material seized from his properties in an FBI raid.

The recommendations came in a letter to Judge Kimba Wood, who had requested candidates from the parties involved in deciding what records are covered by the attorney-client privilege.

Wood did not commit to appointing a special master but said during a Monday hearing “In terms of the perception of fairness a special master might have a role.”

Cohen’s attorneys suggested Bart Schwartz of Guidepost Solutions, Joan McPhee of Ropes & Gray LLP, Tai Park of Park Jensen Bennett LLP or George S. Canellos of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy.

Canellos is a former enforcement director for the Securities and Exchange Commission. Park defended Ng Lap Seng in a United Nation’s bribery case. All four are former prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, the same office that has been investigating Cohen for months over what they’ve called “personal business matters.”

Prosecutors put forth their recommendations for a special master in a court filing Wednesday though reiterated they would prefer to have their internal “taint team” weed out potentially privileged files.

“The Government continues to believe, for the reasons articulated at Monday’s conference, that a Special Master is not warranted,” prosecutors wrote.

They suggested three former federal magistrate judges as a potential third party referee: Frank Maas, James Francis IV, and Theodore Katz.

Maas spent 17 years on the federal bench and was appointed as an arbitrator to resolve disputes arising out of Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.

Francis spent more than 30 years as a federal magistrate and was, for a time, the Chief Magistrate in the Southern District of New York. He oversaw the settlements of hundreds of lawsuits over mass arrests by the NYPD during the 2004 Republican National Convention.

Katz served 21 years as a federal magistrate in New York and became known as a thoughtful settlement judge. In one notable case, he presided over the settlement of a breach of advertising contract involving actress Charlize Theron.

Cohen has asked the judge to appoint an independent third party to review the material. President Trump did not agree.

“The president objects to anyone other than himself making the initial assessment of what’s privileged,” his attorney Joanna Hendon said.

On Monday Wood declined to issue a temporary restraining order but she did not rule on how the review would proceed. Prosecutors agreed to provide copies of everything seized – including 10 boxes of documents and about a dozen electronic devices – to the legal teams of Cohen and Trump and promised not to read anything until the judge decides.