The US government has been secretly reading Michael Cohen’s emails

Raking it in once, but no longer.
Raking it in once, but no longer.
Image: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
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NLawyers for Michael Cohen, personal lawyer to Donald Trump, argued in a hearing today that a recent FBI raid on his offices swept up sensitive documents that should be protected by client-attorney privilege. The Southern District of New York (SDNY) has an interesting counterargument: Cohen is barely a practicing lawyer, anyway—which they claim to know because they’ve been reading his emails.

A 22-page opposition document filed by the US attorney to counter Cohen’s request for a temporary restraining order on seized files (pdf) reveals that the Southern District has been privy to Cohen’s email for a while now, having obtained a previously undisclosed search warrant. According to the documents, “Cohen has exceedingly few clients and a low volume of potentially privileged communications” (p.1) and “performs little to no legal work” (p.4).

The US attorney also questioned the Cohen team’s grasp of the law in his own defense, noting that: “Not only is Cohen’s reliance on the [United States’ Attorney Manual] USAM misplaced, but he invokes the wrong section,” which “applies to ‘attorneys who are not suspects’ of a criminal investigation” (p.13).

The government’s argument emphasizes that information seized from Cohen’s work or home were taken as part of an investigation seeking “evidence of crimes, many of which have nothing to do with his work as attorney, but rather relate to Cohen’s own business dealings” (p.4).