Stormy Daniels. Photo: Getty

Stormy Daniels appeared in court for a hearing in the case against Michael Cohen, Trump’s long-time attorney, whose home was raided last week by the FBI.

The windswept crowd of photographers, journalists and members of the public gathered outside the Manhattan district court on Monday afternoon had been promised stormy weather – and that’s what they got, as heavy rains caused flash-flooding across the city.

But there was a significant political storm on the horizon too.

Porn star Stormy Daniels, who says she was paid $130,000 by Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, to keep quiet about her affair with the president, arrived at the court dressed in a lilac suit and vertiginous black heels and flanked by an entourage of broad, bald-headed men – among them her media-savvy lawyer, Michael Avenatti.

Her presence provided a theatrical flourish to the legal battle over the government’s access to documents obtained in an FBI raid on Cohen’s home, office, hotel room and safe deposit box.

Cohen, who has for many years worked as Trump’s trusted fixer, is subject to a criminal investigation that prosecutors say focuses on his private finances and business interests. The legal battle on Monday was over who should have first access to the material seized by the FBI on 9 April in order to screen any documents protected by attorney-client privilege.

More than at perhaps any other time during his tenure thus far, Trump appears to be in a state of near-total panic over the raid. Close confidants have described the president as being close to “meltdown”. Trump’s tweets spiralled out of control as he learned of the raid. “Attorney–client privilege is dead!” he tweeted, and then a few moments later added “A TOTAL WITCH HUNT!!!”

In court on Monday, the prosecution said the seized material amounted to around ten boxes of documents and around a dozen electronic devices, including computer hard drives and phones. The prosecution argued that they should follow the usual protocol and that the screening should be carried out by a “filter team” or “taint team”, a group of justice officials who are walled off from investigators.

The judge, Kimba Wood, rejected an attempt by lawyers for Cohen and Trump to issue a temporary restraining order to prevent prosecutors from reviewing the materials first. But she postponed her final decision on the matter, indicating that she might be willing to appoint a “Special Master”, a third …read more

Source:: New Statesman

      

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