Trump lawyer under investigation for 'personal business dealings': DOJ

They also made clear that investigators have been gathering extensive evidence for some time as part of an ongoing grand jury investigation.

They also downplayed the scope of potential privilege, saying they had before Monday secretly searched multiple email accounts belonging to Cohen, and which they said indicated that Cohen "is in fact performing little to no legal work".

"He suggested that it would be appropriate for me to go out into the media and spill my guts", Davidson said.

Cohen, in a request for a temporary restraining order, had attempted to limit the scope of records and correspondences investigators could gain access to, in part by asserting attorney-client privilege.

Afterwards, Avenatti said at a press conference that he wasn't surprised at Trump's interest in the case because longtime lawyer Cohen knew "where all the bodies were buried".

The unusual, high-stakes court hearing Friday featured an appearance by an attorney representing Trump, Joanna Hendon. Her client, the president "as the privilege-holder, has an acute interest in this issue". "This is of most concern to him".

Another source tells CNN that in at least one conversation between the two men, "Cohen was being unusually simplistic, like he had bullet points that he was reading from to try and make himself look good".

"This has clearly been a delay tactic from the outset", said Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas McKay.

"The issues here are straightforward", he said.

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Then, The Wall Street Journal reported, seemingly out of the blue, that Cohen had facilitated a payment to a former Playboy model who had become pregnant after an affair with prominent Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy - an arrangement that echoed similar arrangements between President Trump and Stormy Daniels, as well as Karen McDougal.

Avenatti spoke outside the court at Friday's hearing and then followed with a suggestive tweet that "the weather forecast for Monday looks very Stormy".

A lawyer for Cohen, Stephen M. Ryan, on Monday said that USA prosecutors conducted a search that was partly a referral by the Office of the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller. Both women said they had consensual relationships with Trump long before he was elected president. Justice Department regulations require prosecutors to have a "taint team" not involved in the underlying investigation to sift through seized materials and make sure prosecutors don't see things that aren't relevant or are protected by lawyer-client privilege.

Cohen wants Wood to let them or a "special master" review the seized materials to decide what can be turned over, without violating the right of his clients to shield communications with their lawyers. Or, they said, the court could appoint a special master for that objective.

Clifford's lawyer, Michael Avenatti, was in the audience for the court session and asked the judge to be heard at 2 p.m.

Trump expressed outrage after the Federal Bureau of Investigation raid, calling it a "disgraceful situation" and a "total witch hunt" during off-the-cuff remarks to reporters.

"The SDNY is unquestionably conducting a criminal investigation, and a federal judge would not have authorized search warrants absent finding probable cause that federal crimes may have been committed", he added.

Federal agents raided Cohen's Manhattan office and residence on Monday, seizing records on topics, including a $130,000 payment made to porn actress Stormy Daniels.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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