Tierney Sneed

Tierney Sneed is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked for U.S. News and World Report. She grew up in Florida and attended Georgetown University.

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Michael Cohen’s attorney revealed in open court Monday that Sean Hannity is the mystery third client Cohen alluded to in previous court filings, according to reporters live-tweeting the proceedings.

U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood ruled during the hearing that Cohen must disclose the client’s identity. The revelation came in a hearing on Cohen’s efforts to halt the government’s review of documents seized form his office, residence and hotel room, so that Cohen or an independent third party can sort out records falling under attorney-client privilege first.

In a letter Sunday night, Cohen’s attorneys claimed that Cohen had been engaged in “traditional legal tasks” with at least three clients in 2017 through 2018. The letter named President Donald Trump, who has already sought to get involved in the current dispute over the seized documents, and Elliot Broidy, a GOP fundraiser for whom Cohen arranged a hush payment for a Playboy model he impregnated, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Cohen resisted naming the third client, citing his client’s preference that his identity not be made public.

Prosectors have argued that they should be allowed to move forward through the Justice Department’s typical process in which the government handles documents seized from attorneys. Under that process, a special team of DOJ lawyers not involved in the investigation, sort out any documents that fall under attorney-client privilege. Prosecutors, in the Cohen dispute, have argued that their investigation focuses on his business dealing, and that Cohen appears to have been engaged in little traditional legal work anyway.

At the hearing Monday, Cohen’s lawyers floated disclosing the third client to the judge privately under seal, according to the reporters live-tweeting it, but Judge Wood said that they had not met the threshold for the client’s name to remain hidden from the public.

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President Trump’s commission to validate claims of voter fraud may be dead, but Trump and his White House are standing by his baseless assertions. The White House last week backed Trump’s revival of his false claim that millions voted illegally in 2016. “The president still feels there was a large amount of voter fraud,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Monday.

Trump’s administration is, meanwhile, moving forward with efforts to put a question about citizenship on the Census; the question could lead to a major undercount that would shift political power toward rural white areas. Top Census officials met with lawmakers last Tuesday behind closed doors to discuss the 2020 Census. A public House Oversight Committee hearing on the 2020 Census has been scheduled for May 8, at which Census Bureau and Commerce Department officials will likely be interrogated by Democratic lawmakers who see the move as a cynical political power grab. Their Senate counterparts are asking for a public hearing as well.

In the meantime, the Commerce Department is not publicly releasing any documents related to its decision to add the citizenship question; a spokesperson told NPR that they’ll become public when they are filed as part of the administration’s defense in the multiple lawsuits that state AGs and municipalities have brought against the move. The latest lawsuit against the citizenship question — this one backed by former Attorney General Eric Holder’s redistricting group — was filed Wednesday in Maryland.

Remember that Nevada GOP campaign to put two Democratic state legislators up for a recall vote? Well, after a judge’s ruling last month that Nevadans would be allowed to remove their names from petitions to recall the legislators, election officials confirmed that, after a review of the signatures, Nevada Republicans had failed to meet the threshold. They’re still clamoring for officials to re-check that review, but the effort looks as good as dead for now.

We’re seeing more and more examples of voting rights advocates going on the offensive, both in courtrooms and statehouses. New Jersey legislators last week, for instance, sent to the governor’s desk automatic voter registration legislation — a bill that newly elected Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy says he’ll sign.

Two pro-democracy groups, meanwhile, are spearheading a lawsuit against J. Christian Adams, a former member of Trump’s voter fraud commission who has led a private campaign to bully election officials into purging voter rolls. The lawsuit was filed Thursday on behalf of four people whom Adams — in reports released by his group Public Interest Legal Foundation — falsely accused of being non-citizens illegally registered to vote in Virginia.

I’m continuing to watch a case in Florida in which Florida Gov. Rick Scott is appealing a district judge’s order requiring Scott to rework the state’s system for restoring voting rights to felons. Previously, felons had to wait five years after completing their sentences, and Scott could personally intervene in each case to decide who regains the right to vote. Regardless of what happens in the appeal, the issue will be a Florida ballot initiative in November.

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Federal prosecutors in a letter to U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood Monday pushed back on President Trump’s request that he and his attorney Michael Cohen get the first opportunity, before Justice Department lawyers, to review documents seized in FBI raids on Cohen last week.

“[T]he President still cannot identify a single case in which a court has ordered such a remedy, and for good reason — the President’s proposal would set a dangerous precedent,” the letter, from the deputy U.S. attorney overseeing the investigation and three assistant U.S. attorneys in New York’s Southern District, said.

The letter was filed about two hours before a hearing scheduled in front of Wood on Cohen’s effort to halt the review of the seized records by what’s known as a “filter team” or a “taint team” — a group of DOJ lawyers not working on the investigation tasked with sorting out documents covered by attorney-client privilege. Trump — having retained a new personal attorney last week — has sought to intervene in the matter. In a letter Sunday night, his attorney proposed letting Cohen review the documents first, and having him provide for Trump copies of documents that “relate to him in any way.” Trump’s letter also rejected another proposal that had been floated by Cohen: bringing in an independent special master to sort out the privileged documents.

The federal prosecutors in their letter to Wood Monday, called Trump’s position “extreme” and said that under his theory, “every person who has communicated with a lawyer would be given the power to turn every search warrant into a subpoena and to demand the return of lawfully-seized evidence in order to undertake their own review of the evidence.”

“Such a rule is unworkable and ripe for abuse,” the assistant U.S. attorneys said.

Read their full letter below:

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Federal prosectors in New York revealed on Friday that President Trump’s longtime fixer and personal attorney Michael Cohen has been under grand jury investigation for months for alleged “criminal conduct that largely centers on his personal business dealings,” and that as part of the investigation they had obtained previously covert search warrants for multiple Cohen email accounts.

The revelations were made in a court filing made public after a hearing Friday morning during which Cohen’s attorneys sought to prevent prosecutors from having access to documents seized in Monday raids on Cohen’s home, office and hotel room. Cohen’s attorneys are arguing that that either they or an independent third party should be allowed to sort out the records that fall under attorney-client privilege. Standard DOJ practice is that a team known as a “Filter Team” of DOJ lawyers separate from the prosecutors investigating the case undertake the review to screen out those documents.

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The Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General report on Andrew McCabe, the former top FBI official who President Trump fired last month, was obtained and published by the New York Times on Friday, shortly after it was transmitted to Congress.

The Inspector General concluded that on four separate occasions, McCabe lacked candor in explaining his role in an October 30 Wall Street Journal story about internal Justice Department disagreements about its Hillary Clinton investigations.

“While the disclosure may have served McCabe’s personal interests in seeking to rebut the WSJ article on October 23 and to avoid another personally damaging WSJ story on October 30, it did so at the expense of undermining public confidence in the Department as a whole,” the Inspector General’s report said.

Three of those four occasions involved testimony under oath, the IG’s report said.

A major disagreement highlighted in the report is whether McCabe made then-FBI Director James Comey aware that he had authorized a top FBI official to participate in the story, which confirmed that there was an investigation into the Clinton Foundation.

McCabe said he told Comey after the story was published that he had OKed the disclosure, which was in his authority as the deputy director. Comey had told the IG investigators that McCabe did not inform Comey that he had greenlit the leak. The IG report — citing other evidence that backed Comey’s account — sided with Comey’s retelling of that conversation.

Before firing McCabe, Trump had zeroed in on contributions a political group aligned with then-Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) made to McCabe’s wife’s unsuccessful campaign for state senator in 2015. McCabe’s termination as Deputy FBI Director — just hours before he would have been eligible for the bureau’s full retirement package — came as Trump was escalating his war on the FBI and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

The official rationale for the termination of McCabe from the Justice Department was that McCabe misled IG’s investigators probing the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email inquiry. McCabe has denied allegations that he misled the IG.

In a statement Friday, McCabe’s lawyer Michael Bromwich said Comey’s own description of his conversation with McCabe about about the WSJ story — on which two of the four lack of candor conclusions are based — is that his recollection was uncertain.

“[McCabe’s] treatment was far more harsh and far less fair than he deserved, and his reward for the loyalty he showed to his country over the course of his career was a truncated form of administrative due process, including the lack of any right to appeal outside the Department of Justice (DOJ),” Bromwich, a former DOJ IG, said.

“The rush to fire McCabe late on a Friday night, just hours before he was to retire, casts a tremendous shadow over the integrity of this process,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a statement. “There’s really no way to look at McCabe’s firing other than overtly political.”

Read the full report below:

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A hearing on the search warrants used to raid the home, office and hotel room of Michael Cohen, President Trump’s personal attorney, has been scheduled for Friday morning in a Manhattan federal courthouse.

Judge Kimba Wood is presiding over the 10:30 a.m. ET hearing.

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J. Christian Adams, who sat on President Trump’s now-defunct voter fraud commission, is being sued over reports his group issued accusing hundreds of Virginians of having illegally registered to vote.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday against Adams and his group, the Public Interest Legal Foundation, in federal court in Virginia. It targets the voter fraud allegations the group made in reports called “Alien Invasion in Virginia” and “Alien Invasion II,” which claimed that hundreds of non-citizens had likely committed felonies by registering to vote.

The lawsuit is being brought by four people who say they were falsely mislabeled as non-citizens who illegally registered to vote in the reports, despited the fact that they are all citizens.  The League of United Latin American Citizens is also a plaintiff in the lawsuit, which is being spearheaded by the Southern Coalition for Social Justice and Protect Democracy, two pro-democracy groups.”

The complaint said Adams’ claims amount to voter intimidation, because his reports “recklessly” labeled certain Virginians who had been removed from the rolls as non-citizens, without proving that they weren’t removed for other reasons. One plaintiff in the lawsuit, for instance, was removed because of a paperwork error, according to the complaint. Adams’ reports contained personal information of those named including addresses, phone numbers and Social Security numbers, according to the complaint.

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Special Counsel Robert Mueller requested that a judge issue subpoenas for 35 witnesses to appear at the trial scheduled in federal court in Virginia for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, according to a filing dated April 6.

The filing does not say who Mueller intends to subpoena, just that he is requesting that they appear before U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis when the trial starts July 10.

A separate case brought against Manafort by Mueller is scheduled for trial in Washington D.C. in September. Manafort is facing an assortment of charges of financial crimes, as well as failure to disclose foreign lobbying, stemming from work he did in Ukraine prior to the campaign. He has pleaded not guilty.

See the filing below:

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Monday’s news that FBI agents had raided President Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen was a major shock and an “extraordinary” move for federal investigators, former prosecutors told me last night.

But it’s helpful to look back at some of the signs that the investigation into Cohen was heating up, and hints that investigators were, in particular, looking into the hush money that he paid out to a porn star, Stormy Daniels, who allegedly had an affair with Trump starting in 2006. At least one of the banks involved in the October 2016 transaction had been in touch with investigators, according to previous reporting.

Cohen has said he used his own home equity line to make the payment, directing the funds from his account at First Republic Bank through an entity he had set up in Delaware, Essential Consultants LLC. From the Essential Consultants account, he wired the funds to an account set up for use by Daniels’ lawyer, Keith Davidson, at City National Bank in Los Angeles.

First Republic Bank, the Wall Street Journal reported last month, conducted its own internal investigation of the transaction after it received a subpoena from federal investigators. First Republic then flagged the results of the internal probe for the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, a source told the Journal.

First Republic Bank declined to comment to TPM. Thomas Barrack, a close friend of Trump’s, sits on the bank’s board. His private equity firm was a part of an investment deal to buy the bank from Bank of America in 2010.

City National, meanwhile, had apparently launched its own internal review of the transaction in September 2017, when it asked Daniels’ lawyer Davidson — nearly a year after the payment was made to his account — about the source of the money, the Washington Post reported.

It was not clear if the inquiry was prompted by interest from law enforcement, or whether it was just a routine audit by the bank, the Post said.

“As a matter of policy, we don’t confirm or comment on inquiries from regulatory agencies or law enforcement, including subpoenas,” City National said in a statement to the Post.

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Federal prosecutors are seeking Trump Organization records related to an $130,000 payment that President Trump’s private attorney made to a porn star who has claimed to have had an affair with Trump in 2006, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The request was related to raids conducted on attorney Michael Cohen’s home, office and a hotel room he was using Monday. The search warrants sought information on the payments, the New York Times and others reported.

The Wall Street Journal report on the request to Trump Organization is based on a personal familiar with the matter.

Cohen set up a separate entity through which he funneled the payment in October 2016, which he said came from his home equity line. Days before the 2016 election, the money was wired to a bank account connected to an attorney then representing porn star Stormy Daniels, whose birth name is Stephanie Clifford. Clifford, under a pseudonym, signed a nondisclosure agreement about the affair.

Trump Organization lawyer Jill A. Martin’s name was on a filing in an arbitration battle over Daniels’ efforts to speak publicly about her affair, the Wall Street Journal reported last month. Martin told the Journal at the time that she was involved “in her individual capacity” and that the “company has had no involvement in the matter.”

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