Monday, June 11 came and went without Michael Cohen or Trump intervenors—President Donald Trump himself and the Trump Organization—filing objections over what materials have been deemed privileged or not by a special master overseeing a review of the material seized in April from Cohen’s home and offices.
According to sources with knowledge of the situation, Cohen and the Trump intervenors opted to turn away from the option of making objections.
Given the parties’ concerns, raised in recent letters from Trump’s counsel, Spears & Imes partner Joanna Hendon, to U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood for the Southern District of New York, the decision may have come as a surprise to some observers. In her letters, Hendon indicated that Cohen and the intervenors were ready to file their objections as early as June 7, four days before the Monday deadline.
However, Hendon wanted Wood to allow the filings to be filed with the court under seal and ex parte. Both the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and attorneys from Davis Wright Tremaine on behalf of a number of media organizations filed objections, stating that it was important for the public to be able to see the reason for the objections. Wood ultimately agreed with the government and media organizations, ordering the objections be filed publicly, with the exception of material that may unduly reveal the nature of the potentially privileged material in question.
That was Friday, June 8, and since then the docket in In the Matter of Search Warrants Executed on April 9, 2018 has remained silent. According to one observer with knowledge of the situation, the presumption was that Cohen and the Trump intervernors decided they had no objections after all.
There are still the possibility some objections could be raised over the privilege determinations by the special master, Bracewell partner and former Manhattan district judge Barbara Jones. The process for reviewing the material seized by the government has been split and on parallel tracks since Jones’ appointment. While Jones has been reviewing the material provided from the government on her own, Cohen’s team has take the same production and done a separate review for possible privilege issues for both the president and the Trump Organization that has then been handed over.
Jones’ team has worked at a faster pace than Cohen’s, which became an issue at the last hearing before Wood. Cohen’s team was ordered by Wood to have all the remaining material in their possession processed and handed over to the intervernors by June 15, or risk having a government “taint team” take over the remaining production.
The expectation is that Cohen’s team will meet the deadline. This also means that there are likely more privilege claims coming from Cohen and the Trump intervernors that Jones will have to make a call on, and another chance for objections to those privilege decisions to be filed at a later date.
Requests for comment from Trump’s attorney Hendon, as well as Cohen’s attorney, McDermott Will & Emery partner Stephen Ryan, and the Trump Organization’s counsel, private attorney Alan Futerfas, did not elicit an immediate response.