Allegra Kirkland

Allegra Kirkland is a New York-based reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked on The Nation’s web team and as the associate managing editor for AlterNet. Follow her on Twitter @allegrakirkland.

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It’s been over four months since the world learned that Missouri’s governor allegedly tied a woman up in his basement, took a nude photo of her without consent, and threatened to release it publicly. Two months since he was indicted on a felony invasion of privacy charge for that incident. A week since the woman’s graphic version of the 2015 events — including the claim that he pressured her into a sex act while she sobbed on the floor — was released in disturbing public testimony. And days since Missouri’s top leadership told him to resign following news that he may face an unrelated felony charge for matters involving a charity he founded.

But Eric Greitens is still sitting in the governor’s mansion in Jefferson City, with no plans to step down. The Republican governor admits he had an affair but insists he committed no crime, and that he’ll be vindicated in court.

But the Missouri GOP sees things differently: Increasingly, it views Greitens as an anchor, defiantly dragging the entire state party down with him.

State Republicans worry that the longer Greitens spends firing off defensive tweets and huddling with his defense lawyers, the more it will split their party and demoralize Republican voters, dooming the party’s chances in the November midterms. Foremost among the GOP’s concerns is the state’s closely watched U.S. Senate race, which could help determine control of the chamber.

“What I know from the data is that this information flow is awful for Republicans,” Missouri GOP strategist James Harris told TPM. “They’re not talking about efforts to lower taxes in the state, trying to improve education. Instead everything that’s on TV is about deviant sexual activity, assault, coerced sexual acts. It’s not good.”

Greitens’ approval numbers in Missouri are now underwater. And there’s possible precedent for Greitens’ scandals hurting other Missouri Republicans. In February, Democrats won a state assembly race in a deep-red district, leading some state GOPers to point the finger at Greitens.

But the impact could be much greater. For the GOP, the biggest risk is the potential damage to Attorney General Josh Hawley’s campaign against Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) whose poll numbers have improved this spring.

Hawley, a one-time Greitens ally, has distanced himself from the governor. Last week, he called for Greitens to resign or be impeached. On Tuesday, Hawley announced that he’d turned over to the St. Louis Circuit Attorney evidence from his own probe that he said showed Greitens illegally used a donor list from his veterans’ charity to raise money for his 2016 campaign.

But McCaskill and state Democrats are accusing Hawley of going easy on Greitens for too long.

“Hawley was asleep at the wheel,” McCaskill’s campaign said in response to the press conference, noting that the allegations about the charity had been public since October 2016.

A top Missouri Democratic Party official accused Hawley in a statement of looking “the other way to protect his friend and donor until it became politically untenable for him to do so.”

Greitens hasn’t made Hawley’s situation any easier. The governor filed a restraining order against the attorney general this week, accusing Hawley of prejudging his guilt in the blackmail matter. He also put out a dismissive statement calling Hawley “better at press conferences than the law.”

“It is unfair to attack the attorney general for doing his job,” Harris said, likening Greitens’ scandals to a “bunch of weights tied around” Hawley as he campaigns. “Hawley didn’t commit these potential crimes. All these things originated in the governor’s basement.”

Lawmakers, who had a tense relationship with Greitens even before the scandals broke, are now rushing to put space between themselves and the governor. GOP House leadership this week released a joint statement saying that “the time has come” for his resignation. In a searing statement of his own, Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard accused Greitens of causing “tension, conflict and hostility” during his time in office and pressed for impeachment proceedings to begin “immediately.”

Lawmakers resented Greitens’ brusque attitude and his calls to root out the corrupt GOP political establishment in Jefferson City. They criticized his hypocrisy for campaigning on transparency and good government while raking in hundreds of thousands in dark money donations. The former NAVY Seal and Rhodes scholar’s naked political ambition also grated. No one quite forgot that he’d bought up domains like years before he was ever elected to public office.

The state GOP’s distaste for the governor was evident in the comments political strategists made to TPM. He’s a “narcissist” and “sociopath” guilty of “moral turpitude,” they said.

Even Greitens’ top donor has ditched him. Roofing company magnate David Humphreys, who gave over $2 million to the governor’s 2016 campaign, cut ties last week after the House released a report in which Greitens’ former lover testified that he forced her to give him oral sex while she cried, slapped her on multiple occasions, and threatened her.

Still, most GOP lawmakers waited to call for Greitens to step down until this week’s barrage of bad news. Dave Robertson, chair of the political science department at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, said that’s likely because they feared alienating their base, which is closely allied with President Trump and turned out for Greitens in significant numbers.

“Like Republicans everywhere in the country, Republicans here — including in rural areas where many of the leaders of the state legislature are from — are very wary of moving faster than the people,” Robertson said.

What remains to be seen is how much damage Greitens has already done.

“If the governor is removed quickly, the impact will be less noticeable,” Missouri GOP consultant Scott Dieckhaus said. “If he is allowed to linger in the Governor’s Mansion, I think it will have a catastrophic impact on Republican elections this fall.”

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The law firm representing Michael Cohen — which this week fought in court to shield communications between Cohen and President Trump from government investigators — has received payments from President Trump’s re-election campaign.

The payments to the law firm by Trump’s campaign could ultimately complicate any efforts by Robert Mueller’s team to win Cohen’s cooperation in the Russia investigation.

The arrangement could also violate campaign finance laws, if the Trump campaign’s payments cover legal work on the federal probe into Cohen’s financial dealings being conducted by prosecutors with the US Attorney’s office in Manhattan.

Trump’s 2020 campaign paid over $214,000 to McDermott, Will and Emory during the last three months of 2017, FEC records show. The campaign paid the firm an additional $13,000-plus in the first three months of this year.

All three lawyers representing Cohen in the federal probe into his financial dealings work for McDermott. Todd Harrison and Joseph Evans were retained last week after the raid of Cohen’s apartment, hotel room, and office. Stephen Ryan was brought on Monday, but has been representing Cohen in the various Russia investigation since last June.

The Cohen probe reportedly grew out of a referral from Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who handles the federal Russia investigation. But these two probes are being run separately.

Neither Ryan nor Cohen responded to TPM’s requests for comment Wednesday. A Trump 2020 campaign official who has handled press inquiries and a spokesperson for McDermott also did not respond.

It likely would be legal for the Trump campaign to pay Cohen’s legal bills in the Russia investigation, as long as both parties agreed to it, since that probe grew out of the 2016 campaign, experts in campaign finance say. But if the payments also cover McDermott’s representation of Cohen in the probe into his finances, they could violate campaign finance laws.

“Anything about Cohen’s business dealings would have nothing to do with the campaign and can’t be covered by the campaign,” said Larry Noble, general counsel at the Campaign Legal Center.

Even if the Trump campaign is only paying McDermott for its Russia-focused work on Cohen’s behalf, the fact that the same lawyers are representing Cohen in the financial probe creates a complicated ethical situation, raising questions about whose interests are being represented: Cohen’s, Trump’s, or the Trump Organization’s.

The exceptional no-knock search warrants executed against Cohen last week underlined the real legal exposure he faces in that investigation. Legal experts have speculated that federal agents may be trying to convince Cohen to cooperate and divulge anything he may know about the financial dealings of Trump and the Trump Organization, where Cohen has long been a trusted adviser.

Cohen has reportedly said he’d rather “jump out of a building than turn” on his friend and longtime business partner. If the Trump campaign is paying for Cohen’s legal representation, he’s even less likely to do so.

For now, Cohen’s and Trump’s legal interests appear to largely be in sync. Lawyers for both Cohen and Trump argued before Judge Kimba Wood this week that they should get the first pass at reviewing which documents seized from Cohen by federal agents are covered by attorney-client privilege.

Ryan explicitly said that Cohen intervened to stop the U.S. Attorney’s office from conducting that review because of his concern about communications related to Trump. Ryan said he knew materials related to the Trump Organization “are among those that have been seized.”

“My swim lane was Russia,” Ryan said in court on Monday, noting he’d only begun working “on campaign finance issues” in the past few weeks.

Those issues presumably relate to Cohen’s $130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels days before the election to keep her from going public with a story about her alleged affair with Trump.

Though Ryan said he expected the Russia investigations to be a “dry hole” when it comes to Cohen, the New York case was a separate matter.

“Candidly, this man’s life has been turned upside down over the past week,” Ryan said of Cohen, noting that the investigation “has come out of the blue.”

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Republican state legislative leaders in Missouri on Tuesday night called for Gov. Eric Greitens (R) to resign amid mounting legal troubles that have brought embarrassment and national news attention to the Show-Me State.

“When leaders lose the ability to effectively lead our state, the right thing to do is step aside,” House Speaker Todd Richardson, House Majority Leader Rob Vescovo and House Speaker Pro Tem Elijah Haahr said in a joint statement to local media. “In our view, the time has come for the governor to resign.”

Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard said in his own statement that it is his “wish that we immediately start impeachment proceedings” if Greitens declines to step down.

But the governor is refusing to relent.

“In three weeks, this matter will go to a court of law — where it belongs and where the facts will prove my innocence,” Greitens said in a statement of his own. “Until then, I will do what the people of Missouri sent me here to do: to serve them and work hard on their behalf.”

The legislative leaders’ push came hours after Attorney General Josh Hawley, a Republican, announced that he had discovered and turned over to St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner evidence that Greitens may have committed a felony in connection with using the veterans’ charity he founded to raise money for his campaign for governor.

A grand jury convened by Gardner in February had indicted Greitens on a separate felony charge for allegedly taking a nonconsensual nude photo of a woman with whom he was having an affair, and threatening to share it.

And the Missouri House last week released a report based on its investigation of those allegations, including testimony in which the woman claims Greitens hit her, threatened to blackmail her, and coerced her to engage in sexual acts while she wept.

Hawley and a number of Missouri lawmakers had already called for Greitens to step down as a result of his conduct with the woman.

Greitens has admitted to the affair but denied the allegations of blackmail, physical violence, and sexual coercion.

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It’s not easy to convince a federal judge to view the law enforcement process as biased and illegitimate from the outset. But that’s essentially the case that lawyers for President Trump and Michael Cohen are trying to make before U.S. Judge Kimba Wood.

Through their attorneys, the president and his longtime fixer are claiming that the current atmosphere of “toxic partisan politics” means Justice Department prosecutors can’t be trusted to sort through the reams of material that federal agents seized from Cohen to determine which are covered by attorney-client privilege. Meanwhile, they’re insisting that they aren’t impugning the government’s integrity.

Prosecutors counter that any questions about DOJ’s impartiality are the result of attacks leveled by Trump himself.

In their court filings and oral arguments, Trump and Cohen’s attorneys criticized last week’s raid as overzealous and suggested that Trump’s own Justice Department may be biased against him.

“There is a growing public debate about whether criminal and congressional investigations by the government are being undertaken impartially, free of any political bias or partisan motivation,” Todd Harrison, an attorney for Cohen, wrote in a Monday morning court filing.

Lawyers for Cohen and Trump argue that they should be allowed the “first cut” at perusing the seized material to filter out privileged conversations between the two men. They say typical DOJ protocol, in which a “filter” or “taint” team of prosecutors who are not involved in the case handles that task, will not suffice.

Harrison and Trump attorney Joanna Hendon argued at a hearing Monday that, as Hendon said, there is a “tremendous risk that privileged material may not be recognized as such” by DOJ prosecutors. Both teams have said that the incredible sensitivities involved in a raid on the office of a sitting President’s personal attorney require special treatment.

“The stakes are too high,” Harrison argued.

“The American public is watching,” and partisan attacks are “going back and forth” in the media’s coverage it,” he added.

Harrison repeatedly reiterated that he wasn’t saying the government “did anything wrong.” The issue, he said, is that the situation is just too “combustible.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom McKay said this is a predicament of the defendants’ own making. He pointed out that of the three parties involved in the litigation, only two have made “inflammatory public statements” about the case.

Trump raged last week that the investigation into Cohen represented “a whole new level of unfairness,” calling the raid a “disgraceful situation” and an “attack on our country in a true sense.” And the Cohen case follows a sustained, months-long campaign by Trump to discredit the FBI.

Though Cohen described the agents who conducted the search as “extremely professional,” his attorney, Stephen Ryan, said their actions were “completely inappropriate and unnecessary.”

McKay told the court that the “toxic partisan politics” lamented by Cohen’s team are only furthered by these sorts of remarks, noting that federal agents only secured the warrants after convincing a magistrate judge that they had concrete evidence of Cohen’s criminal conduct.

McKay accused Cohen of trying to “drum up media attention” about his case and then pointing to that attention to try to convince the court to rule in his favor.

Granting “special treatment” to Cohen just because his client happens to be the President of the United States undermines the concerns about the perception of fairness that Cohen and Trump claim to have, McKay said.

Trump’s words have come back to haunt him in court before. Attorneys fighting his ban on immigrants from a handful of majority-Muslim countries; his proposed transgender military ban; and his efforts to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program have cited the President’s tweets as evidence of his prejudices.

But in this instance, Trump and his longtime fixer are trying to leverage their attacks on the DOJ’s integrity to obtain what prosecutors say is preferential treatment in a criminal investigation directly related to their own business dealings.

Judge Wood, an appointee of President Ronald Reagan, has settled for now on a middle path, allowing both Cohen and the government to sort through the reams of seized material to assess how much of it may be privileged. Though she left open the possibility that an independent special master may have a role in the privilege review, Wood made a point of emphasizing her belief in the scrupulousness of DOJ investigators.

“I have faith in the Southern District U.S. Attorney’s office that their integrity is unimpeachable,” Wood said pointedly as Monday’s hearing wrapped up.

Those comments left the impression that criticizing the DOJ won’t be a winning legal strategy.

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Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley announced Tuesday that his office has turned up evidence indicating that Gov. Eric Greitens may have committed a felony in matters relating to a veterans’ charity he founded.

The announcement may be a sign that Missouri Republicans are moving towards abandoning their embattled governor, who has faced calls to step down since being charged in February in connection with claims that he tried to blackmail a woman with whom he was having an affair.

In a Tuesday press conference, Hawley said that his investigators believe Greitens obtained the donor list for the charity, The Mission Continues, and had it sent it to his 2016 gubernatorial campaign to use for political fundraising.

“This is known as computer tampering,” said Hawley, alleging that Greitens did not seek the charity’s permission to take the list. “And given the value of the list in question, it is a felony.”

Hawley, a Republican who is running for the U.S. Senate, said he had turned evidence over to St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, as the alleged criminal act occurred in her jurisdiction. Hawley said it will be up to Gardner to decide whether to press charges.

Greitens dismissed Hawley’s claims as “ridiculous” in a statement responding to the announcement, calling Hawley “better at press conferences than the law.”

In a statement provided to TPM, Gardner’s office said they are “reviewing the evidence” but “can’t discuss any specifics at this time, as the investigation is ongoing.”

A grand jury convened by Gardner indicted Greitens in February on a separate felony invasion of privacy charge for allegedly taking a nonconsensual nude photo of a woman with whom he carried out a 2015 affair, with the intent to transmit it.

Greitens has admitted to the relationship. He has adamantly denied the allegations of blackmail, sexual coercion and physical violence that were laid out by the woman in vivid detail in testimony presented to a Missouri House committee investigating the various claims against the governor. The House panel’s preliminary report was released last week, and another legislative report, focused on Greitens’ work with the Mission Continues, is expected in May.

After the House report came out last week, Hawley called for Greitens to step down immediately or be impeached for his “shocking” misconduct.

Greitens has painted the allegations against him as part of a partisan witch hunt. Gardner is a Democrat, but five of the seven members of the House committee, in addition to Hawley, are Republicans.

The bones of the charity scandal have been public since his 2016 campaign. Just weeks before the election, the Associated Press revealed an overlap between donors to Greitens’ charity, which he founded in 2007 and left in 2014, and his campaign. At the time, Greitens adamantly denied using Mission Continues’ donor list.

But after a complaint was filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission, Greitens ultimately agreed to pay a fine and acknowledge that he received the list as an in-kind donation from his campaign manager, Daniel Laub. The Mission Continues has denied turning their list over to anyone associated with Greitens’ campaign.

Interest in this unusual set of affairs was reignited following Greitens’ initial felony indictment. Gardner announced she would be looking into the charity, while Hawley announced in early March that his office had an “open inquiry” into the Mission Continues.

Hawley has been criticized by his Democratic opponent in the Senate race, Sen. Claire McCaskill, for failing to launch probes into Greitens’ conduct earlier.

On Tuesday, McCaskill’s campaign said that this belated discovery of possible criminal behavior “shows gross incompetence on the part of the Attorney General,” given that the basic information about the charity misconduct first surfaced in October 2016. McCaskill accused Hawley of “trying to protect his friend and large donor for as long as possible.”

Greitens’ full statement is below:

Fortunately for Josh, he’s better at press conferences than the law. Anyone who has set foot in a Missouri courtroom knows these allegations are ridiculous. Josh has turned the “evidence” he claims to have over to St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner—a liberal prosecutor funded by George Soros who allegedly subpoenaed perjury, falsified documents, and withheld evidence. We will dispense with these false allegations.

This post has been updated.

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Michael Cohen’s Monday afternoon hearing at Manhattan’s Daniel Patrick Moynihan federal courthouse drew much heavier crowds than his initial hearing last week thanks to two special guests: Cohen himself and adult film star Stormy Daniels.

The first glimpse of a stern-looking Cohen came at around 1:30 p.m. as he moved through the lobby, flanked by his attorneys, past a long line of reporters and interested members of the public waiting to ascend to the courtroom on the 21st floor.

Daniels didn’t arrive until later. As the audience took their seats and the hands of the clock on the courtroom’s back wall crept towards 2 p.m., reporters kept turning around in their seats to see if she would turn up as her lawyer Michael Avenatti had promised she would. At around 1:59 p.m., the door peeked open and a guard could be seen telling Avenatti, “We’re full.” A pair of sky-high heels were visible through the crack.

After a few moments of muttered negotiations, the security team shifted a reporter to a different seat and in walked Avenatti and Daniels. Though Cohen didn’t turn around, every other eye in the room was on the pair as they took their seats in the corner. One of the in-house court reporters seated in the jury box stood up to get a better look, and two of the female court sketch artists donned what looked like opera glasses to get a clearer view of their subject.

The next dramatic moment came when Sean Hannity was revealed to be Cohen’s mysterious third client. As I reported, the judge ordered Cohen’s lawyers to disclose his name in open court immediately after they failed to prove “at all” that his identity should be treated with special care. After Cohen attorney Stephen Ryan stood up and gave the name, the courtroom broke into gasps and murmurs, and a contingent of reporters rushed outside to share the news.

Another notable incident: For the first time, Trump Organization attorney Alan Futerfas appeared in court to present his interest on behalf of the Trump family’s sprawling real estate company. Futerfas requested that the company be allowed to review all documents seized by federal agents that relate to the Trump Organization, so that they “can help the government make privilege designations.”

The various parties were met with a swarm of cameras when the hearing finally wrapped up at 5 p.m. Shutters clicked as Daniels and Avenatti departed in a black SUV. Passersby snapped photographs of the chaos on their smartphones, and one woman muttered to her friend, “I’ve never seen anything like this.”

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 16: Michael Cohen leaves Federal Court after his hearing on the FBI raid of his hotel room and office on April 16, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)
(Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK—A tantalizing detail was included in a Monday court filing made on behalf of Michael Cohen. The longtime fixer for President Donald Trump had three legal clients between 2017 and 2018: Trump, GOP fundraiser Elliott Broidy, and one mysterious individual who had asked not to be named.

As we now know, that person was Fox News host and Trump booster Sean Hannity.

Hannity’s name was only disclosed after a heated debate during an afternoon hearing at a Manhattan federal courthouse.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom McKay said Cohen’s team’s withholding the name suggested they would not be forthcoming with even basic information relevant to their investigation into Cohen’s potential financial crimes. Calling it a “preview of what’s going to happen,” McKay said the lack of disclosure indicated that Cohen’s team would “hide behind over-broad claims of privilege.”

Judge Kimba Wood seemed to agree, urging Cohen’s team to explain why the mere identification of this particular client was a matter subject to attorney-client privilege.

Cohen lawyers Todd Harrison and Stephen Ryan’s response: It would be embarrassing.

Ryan called the person a “publicly prominent individual” who had expressly asked not to be named and to file an appeal if the court ordered Cohen’s team to reveal his identity.

“At this point no one would want to admit they’re a client in this way,” Ryan said, offering to submit the name to the court in an envelope if it would be kept under seal.

McKay, Ryan, and Wood went back and forth on this matter for several minutes. At one point, Ryan even made the outlandish claim that disclosing the person’s identity would “affect peoples’ willingness” to seek counsel from lawyers in the future. He was met with snickers.

Wood ultimately said that Cohen’s team had failed to prove “at all” that the situation they had described merited special attorney-client privilege considerations.

“I understand that he doesn’t want his name out there, but that’s not enough under the law,” she said, ordering Cohen’s attorneys to disclose the name immediately.

Ryan stood up and said, “The client’s name that is involved is Sean Hannity.”

The room broke out in gasps and titters. Reporters elbowed each other, and several dashed out of the room to deliver the news to their editors.

It took a moment for the courtroom to settle down and continue with the proceeding.

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Aiming to leverage the White House’s campaign to discredit the FBI and Justice Department, attorneys for Michael Cohen are claiming that federal prosecutors can’t fairly sort through a trove of documents seized from their client.

In a Monday letter to Judge Kimba Wood, Cohen’s team wrote that either they or an independent third party — known as a special master — should conduct the initial review of the materials, to filter out anything protected by attorney-client privilege and avoid “even the appearance of impropriety.”

Appointing a special master “will protect the integrity of the Government’s investigation from the toxic partisan politics of the day and attacks on the impartiality of the Justice Department and the USAO.”

Of course, the brunt of those attacks have come from President Donald Trump, for whom Cohen has long acted as a fixer. In tweets, public statements and interviews, Trump has for months argued that shadowy “deep state” officials at the FBI and DOJ are hopelessly biased against him.

The president has described the newly revealed criminal investigation into Cohen in similar terms, saying that federal agents acting on legally obtained search warrants “broke into” Cohen’s office and committed an “attack on our country.” Cohen is under investigation for matters related to his personal business dealings, reportedly including hush money payments he made to women who claim they’ve had intimate relationships with the President.

Attorneys for both Trump and Cohen have requested permission to carry out the initial review of the seized materials, though Trump’s lawyers don’t agree that a special master would serve as a good backup option.

Judge Wood asked Cohen’s team during a Friday hearing to turn over an approximate list of individuals with whom Cohen had engaged in an attorney-client relationship, as well as an estimate of how much of the seized material was covered by that privilege.

In their letter, Cohen’s attorneys explain that they don’t know exactly what material was seized and offer more details on those Cohen represented. Between 2017 and 2018, they note, Cohen had seven business clients and three legal clients. Those included Trump and former Republican National Committee deputy finance chairman Elliott Broidy. As the Wall Street Journal reported this weekend, Broidy paid Cohen to negotiate a nondisclosure agreement related to a reported affair that Broidy had with a former Playboy model.

Cohen’s attorneys say his third legal client directed Cohen not to reveal his identity publicly. Per their letter, ethical and legal considerations prevent them from doing so. Given that Cohen is caught up in the middle of a sprawling criminal investigation, disclosing the identity of this third unnamed client or of other previous clients Cohen has engaged would “most certainly be embarrassing and ‘detrimental” to those clients, his attorneys write.

Wood is expected to make a determination on these privilege matters at a 2 p.m. ET hearing at Patrick Daniel Moynihan Courthouse in lower Manhattan. Both Cohen and adult film star Stormy Daniels, one of the recipients of his hush money payments, are expected to attend.

Read the full letter below.

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President Donald Trump is demanding the chance to review his files seized by federal investigators from his longtime fixer, Michael Cohen, to assess which are protected by attorney-client privilege, arguing that DOJ prosecutors cannot fairly make that determination.

Trump’s demands came in a letter filed late Sunday evening in federal court in Manhattan, where U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood has scheduled a hearing Monday to determine who gets to go through the seized records first. Prosecutors have said that a federal grand jury has been investigating Cohen for months. He has not been charged with any crimes.

Trump’s lawyers asked that he and Cohen receive a copy of the materials obtained in last week’s raids so they can give them a first pass for exchanges that may be privileged. A so-called “taint team” of DOJ attorneys uninvolved in the case would be “plainly inadequate” and fail to “zealously protect the President’s privilege,” Trump attorney Joanna Hendon wrote in the letter addressed to Wood.

The President retained this new legal team after federal agents raided Cohen’s office, home and apartment last Monday. Court filings released days later revealed that Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney and close ally, has been under criminal investigation for matters related to his business dealings.

Lawyers for Trump and Cohen have taken similar tacks, arguing that the U.S. Attorney’s Office is trying to rush the investigation and made their seizures in an inappropriate fashion.

In her Sunday letter, Hendon said that agents acted in an “aggressive, intrusive, and unorthodox manner” during the raid and that their actions were “disquieting to lawyers, clients, citizens, and commentators alike.”

She argued that U.S. prosecutors had made clear in their filings before the court that they’ve “pre-judged the matter of privilege” by insisting that few of the documents seized were likely to warrant that protection, and that the “staggering amount of attention trained on this investigation, Mr. Cohen, and the President” make it impossible for them to review the material fairly.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office has asked Wood for permission to begin reviewing the material immediately, noting that the use of taint teams is “common procedure” in federal investigations.

Wood is expected to decide who gets first crack at the documents at a hearing Monday at 2 p.m. ET in federal court in lower Manhattan. Cohen has been ordered to appear in person.

Read the full letter below:

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President Trump’s righthand man, Michael Cohen, has been under grand jury investigation for months for alleged “criminal conduct” related to his business dealings, court filings unsealed Friday revealed. Federal agents have obtained cover search warrants for multiple email accounts used by Cohen, and their probe burst into public view earlier in the week when they seized documents from his home, office and hotel room.

Their search related not just to the hush-money payments Cohen made to women who claim to have had sexual encounters with Trump, but also to personal dealings including a taxi business with which he was involved.

At a Friday federal court hearing, Cohen’s lawyers argued that much of the information seized was protected by attorney-client privilege and that they should get the first crack at reviewing it. Judge Kimba Wood gave the team until Monday to provide more evidence that this is the case and ordered Cohen himself to show up in court.

The New York Times also revealed Tuesday that special counsel Mueller is probing a $150,000 donation to the Trump campaign that Cohen solicited from a Ukrainian steel mogul in September 2015.

Amid this explosive environment, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees the special counsel’s Russia investigation and personally approved the raid on Cohen, is warning associates that he may soon be fired.

Also Friday, the Justice Department Inspector General released its report on ousted FBI official Andrew McCabe, determining that McCabe lacked candor in his discussions with the media about the DOJ investigations into Hillary Clinton. A worked-up Trump seized on the report, saying McCabe “LIED! LIED! LIED!” The President also compared McCabe to James Comey, the FBI director he fired and who is releasing a book on Tuesday that likens Trump to a corrupt mob boss.

On Capitol Hill, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg sailed through a joint hearing on his company’s facilitation of the spread of “fake news” during the 2016 campaign, faced by senators unversed in how the social media platform operates. Zuckerberg acknowledged that Facebook is cooperating with Mueller’s investigation.

At his nomination hearing on Tuesday, CIA Director and Secretary of State designate Mike Pompeo would not discuss whether Trump had asked him to urge Comey to put a stop to the Russia probe.

A search warrant released over the weekend suggests that, even before Mueller was appointed, investigators were already homing in on Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s previous work in Ukraine. Manafort’s lawyers on Tuesday asked the judge overseeing the case against him in Washington, D.C., to suppress evidence seized from his home, arguing that the search was overly broad.

And Ezra Cohen-Watnick, ousted from the National Security Council last summer, is rejoining the DOJ as national security advisor to Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Reportedly, he’s doing so on the personal order of the President.

These events unfolded amid rising tensions between the U.S. and Russia over Bashar al-Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria, with Russia warning it would shoot down U.S. missiles should Trump choose to intervene.

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