Judge Suggests Review of Cohen Documents Is Moving Too Slowly

Porn Star’s Attorney Avenatti Battles Wall Street Journal Report Of Stonewalling Federal Prosecutors

Porn Star’s Attorney Avenatti Battles Wall Street Journal Report Of Stonewalling Federal Prosecutors

At the hearing, Wood will also consider whether to allow Michael Avenatti, the attorney for adult-film star Stormy Daniels - who Cohen paid $130,000 in 2016 to remain silent about an alleged affair with Trump - to intervene in the proceedings.

Stephen Ryan, an attorney for Cohen, argued that Avenatti had acted outrageously by publicly releasing banking information related to Cohen and by criticizing Cohen in dozens of television appearances.

Upon leaving the courthouse in lower Manhattan, Cohen - who also has the Fox TV star Sean Hannity as a client - did not reply to a shouted question about whether he meant to cooperate with prosecutors.

Shortly after a hearing before U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood Wednesday, Avenatti withdrew his request to participate in the case, but said he may refile it later. "Nothing. The law firm involved is not even the same law firm that represents Ms. Daniels", Avenatti had previously stated.

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"If you participate here, you would not be able to declare your opinion as to Mr. Cohen's guilt, which you did;" she said. The judge said she needed to balance the need for a careful review with the need to move the case forward and noted that the special master, who is also reviewing documents as they are produced by the government, had no problem "speeding up as necessary".

Wood set the June 15 deadline for attorneys for Cohen, working with attorneys for Trump and his company, to determine what is privileged and turn it over to the special master. Earlier this month, Cohen's lawyers wrote that Avenatti had created a "carnival atmosphere" and should not be allowed into the NY court.

Cohen, who has not been charged with a crime, is under investigation on suspicion of campaign-finance violations and bank fraud.

Of the more than 1 million seized pieces of information reviewed by a court-appointed official, only 252 were classified as privileged communication between attorney and client, meaning they would not be turned over to prosecutors investigating Cohen's business activities.

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Rachel Maimin, an assistant USA attorney, said her office was still trying to access files from two Blackberry devices, which Cohen believed belonged to his wife almost a decade ago, and the contents of a shredding machine.

Steven Ryan, Cohen's lead counsel, informed the choose "I would like extra time" and lobbied - unsuccessfully - for a mid-July deadline. He noted Avenatti's release of Cohen's leaked banking information, which showed hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments from companies with business before the US government and an investment firm tied to a Russian oligarch. Any such material, if it exists, is "under lock and key" at his offices, he said.

Avenatti admitted he had no concrete proof of that claim, but he said the existence of the recordings should be considered a red flag.

The attorney for porn actress Stormy Daniels appeared Wednesday evening on MSNBC's "The Beat With Ari Melber", where the host asked him to speculate about what those tapes might reveal about the president and his Trump Organization attorney. The revelation of that payment ignited a firestorm around Cohen and the president, and Daniels is separately suing Cohen and Trump in California to void the nondisclosure agreement she signed with Cohen. Wood said that was too long. Avenatti's firm holds a 75 percent stake in Eagan-Avenatti while Michael Eagan holds a 25 percent stake in said firm, according to documents obtained by Finnegan.

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"Sooner rather than later that is going to have to be teed-up", he told Wood.

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