The high-stakes nature of the Cohen investigation was punctuated last week when Trump hired a new attorney, Joanna Hendon, to represent him in the New York legal battle—a battle that Trump’s advisers reportedly fear more than the Russia investigation. Hendon, who works with Spears & Imes in New York and specializes in white-collar criminal defense, was hired by the president two days after the raid on Cohen’s home and office. She requested a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against the government on the president’s behalf, in an attempt to stop prosecutors from reviewing the seized materials before Trump got the chance to review them himself. The president, she said on Monday, “objects to anyone else but him making the first claim of privilege.” When Wood asked how much time the president would have to devote to that task, Hendon replied that it was “impossible to say,” and made an impassioned plea for the “rights of the privilege-holder” while emphasizing that neither she nor Trump knew what was in Cohen’s files. “Memos? Maybe they hand-wrote letters to each other?” Hendon asked, trying to make a point. “Well, they talked,” Wood replied, implying that prosecutors may have obtained recordings of conversations between Trump and Cohen. Hendon appeared uncomfortable, pausing before announcing that she didn’t know “whether Cohen recorded things my client said to him.”
Judge Kimba Wood
Wood, who has been a judge in the Southern District of New York since 1988, appeared more sympathetic to the prosecutors than the defendants—at one point, she interrupted one of Cohen’s attorneys, Todd Harris, when he claimed that the prosecution was trying to paint Cohen and his team as “bad people.”
“It’s not that you’re bad people, it’s that you’ve mis-cited the law,” Wood said. When Cohen’s attorney Steve Ryan said that Cohen was worried about revealing his third client’s name against that person’s wishes, Wood deadpanned: “If I ordered it to be released, Mr. Cohen would have no ethics issues.” She ultimately ordered the name to be revealed to the court under seal, at which point an attorney representing various media outlets approached the podium and argued that there was no legal reason why the client’s identity should be hidden from the press and the public. Wood agreed. Later, she said that she had faith in “the integrity” of the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan to review the seized materials properly, without violating attorney-client privilege. While Cohen and Trump’s legal teams should get a copy of the materials, she ruled, prosecutors would be allowed to screen them simultaneously.
“It’s a stormy day,” Daniels’s attorney, Michael Avenatti, told reporters gathered at the Manhattan courthouse on Monday. He had promised on Sunday that she would be at the hearing, and he delivered—Daniels entered the courtroom shortly after 2 p.m. and sat down in a folding chair, her back to the wall and Cohen’s back to her. In January, The Wall Street Journal broke the story that Cohen had paid Daniels $130,000 just days before the 2016 election in exchange for her agreeing to sign a nondisclosure agreement about an affair she allegedly had with Trump in 2006. Daniels is now suing Trump to try to get out of that agreement, which she claims is invalid because Trump himself never signed it. She is also suing Cohen for defamation over a statement he released in February indicating that her claims of an affair were false. “So for years, Mr. Cohen has acted like he is above the law. He has considered himself and openly referred to himself as Mr. Trump’s fixer,” Daniels told reporters outside the courthouse on Monday. “He has played by a different set of rules, or should we say no rules at all.”