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Special master picked to review items seized from Michael Cohen in FBI raid

Ex-Judge Barbara Jones will review items taken from Trump's attorney to see what may be protected by attorney-client privilege.
by Hannah Rappleye /
Image: U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen arrives at federal court in the Manhattan borough of New York
President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen arrives at federal court in New York on Thursday, April 26.Lucas Jackson / Reuters

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Judge Kimba Wood appointed a former Manhattan federal judge as "special master" Thursday to review the documents seized from President Donald Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen during an FBI raid two weeks ago.

Wood's choice, Barbara Jones, spent nearly 17 years on the bench in the Southern District of New York and is now in private practice at the law firm Bracewell LLP.

Jones will be reviewing the seized documents for materials that may be eligible for attorney-client privilege. She will receive a full set, and Cohen's attorney will receive a full set.

According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas McKay, the government is "on schedule" and has already provided Cohen's attorneys with some materials from the eight boxes of documents, four phones, one iPad and several hard drives and storage devices that the FBI seized from Cohen's New York office and nearby hotel room on April 9.

Cohen attorney Steve Ryan said his team received 100 GB of data from a drive Thursday morning. "We are in a very good place and ready to roll," he said.

The attorney for adult film star Stormy Daniels, Michael Avenatti, has filed a motion to intervene. Avenatti said he has "substantial reason" to believe that there are privileged or "improper" communications between Cohen and the former attorney for Daniels, Keith Davidson, among the seized documents.

Davidson represented Daniels when she signed a nondisclosure agreement in 2016 over an alleged affair with Trump. Trump has denied the affair, but said Thursday morning during a television appearance that Cohen had represented him in the Daniels agreement.

Prosecutors have asked for more time to review Avenatti's motion.

"We just want a seat at the table," said Avenatti, who added that he had already asked Davidson for the communications but "he claims he no longer has them or the government has them."

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