Federal prosecutors in New York made a ground-shaking move when they flipped President Donald Trump and Fox News host Sean Hannity's statements back against the two.
On Thursday, the federal officials formally made the argument that the pair's statements have nullified the notion that most of the materials seized from Michael Cohen were protected by attorney-client privilege.
The filing coincided with Trump's call to “Fox & Friends” for an interview. The president claimed that Cohen, who has been Trump's personal lawyer, was involved with only “a tiny, tiny little fraction” of his legal work.
“This has nothing to do with me,” Trump said during his interview with Fox. “I've been told I'm not involved.”
The president then acknowledged that Cohen did facilitate the payment to adult-film star Stormy Daniels on his behalf. The $130,000 payment was part of a nondisclosure agreement that silenced Daniels on the topic of an alleged affair with Trump.
“Like with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal, he represented me and you know, from what I see, he did absolutely nothing wrong,” Trump said despite having previously claimed that he was unaware of the payment.
Hannity, who was revealed to have been one of Cohen's clients, similarly claimed that Cohen was never formally retained as his lawyer.
“Michael Cohen has never represented me in any matter. I never retained him, received an invoice, or paid legal fees. I have occasionally had brief discussions with him about legal questions about which I wanted his input and perspective,” he claimed on Twitter.
“These statements by two of Cohen’s three identified clients suggest that the seized materials are unlikely to contain voluminous privileged documents, further supporting the importance of efficiency here,” Robert Khuzami, the deputy U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, wrote in a letter to District Judge Kimba Wood.
The letter was delivered before a hearing about the materials seized during FBI raids on Cohen's home, office, and hotel.
Lawyers for President Trump and Cohen had argued that the records seized were protected by attorney-client privilege and strategized accordingly.
Trump had also publicly argued that the raids and subsequent seizure of materials were violations of attorney-client privilege, posting “Attorney-client privilege is dead!”
Attorney–client privilege is dead!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 10, 2018
The unhinged interview with “Fox & Friends” was a shot in the foot, but also seemed to reflect the administration's scattered and chaotic state. As Cohen is struggling under investigation for possible campaign finance and bank fraud violations, the president continues to face harsh criticisms and low approval ratings.
H/T: The Hill