Mueller Team Made a Grab for Paul Manafort’s ‘Privileged’ Docs Before Michael Cohen Raid
After Monday’s raid on Michael Cohen’s office, home, and hotel room, President Donald Trump tweeted: “Attorney-client privilege is dead!” That isn’t true. But it is accurate to say that Mueller, his investigators, and the Southern District of New York team that took over the Cohen probe from him have all taken an aggressive approach to their targets’ legal teams.
One example, which has not been previously reported, came when Mueller’s investigators raided Paul Manafort’s house in Virginia. Among other items, investigators seized a binder full of information that Manafort and his legal team considered privileged, according to a source familiar with the matter. Manafort’s lawyer wrote a strongly worded letter to the Special Counsel’s office saying the material was privileged, and the binder was ultimately returned.
It isn’t the only example of Mueller taking steps that make defense attorneys extremely nervous. His grand jury brought in one of Manafort’s former lawyers, Melissa Laurenza, for questioning. She had helped Manafort fill out lobbying disclosure forms for the Justice Department. Judge Beryl Howell, who oversees Mueller’s grand jury, issued an opinion finding that attorney-client privilege did not extend to Laurenza because the work she did for Manafort was public and because her communications with Manafort could have been part of a criminal activity.
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