Feds seek outsider to sift seized Giuliani records

The move would be a departure from the Justice Department's usual practices.

5/5/2021 6:55:00 AM

Federal prosecutors are seeking to submit info that the FBI seized from Rudy Giuliani to a court-appointed special master for review before any records are turned over to investigators.

The move would be a departure from the Justice Department's usual practices.

The letter was sent Thursday, one day after Giuliani's Manhattan apartment and office were searched. The judge unsealed it Tuesday afternoon. In an order Tuesday, Oetken also gave Giuliani until May 10 to respond to the government's proposal.Under a special-master process, a respected lawyer — often a retired judge or magistrate — often supervises the sifting of emails, text messages, photos, audio and video files to determine what is covered by the warrant. The special master could also assess whether such records are covered by attorney-client privilege or other protections lawyers have for their records.

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The prosecutors proposal in Giuliani's case appears to embrace a special master supervising the privilege review, but not the sorting of what records are responsive. Giuliani, Trump or other Giuliani clients could ask Oetken to broaden the special counsel's responsibilities.

An attorney for Giuliani, Robert Costello, declined to comment Tuesday.When the FBI raided Trump lawyer Michael Cohen in 2018, prosecutors said appointment of a special master was “neither required nor appropriate.” Lawyers from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan instead said they planned to rely on a “rigorous filter protocol” to make sure no privileged or non-responsive records reached investigators. That approach is sometimes also referred to as a “taint team,” which then passes on records that those pursuing the investigation are deemed to have the right to see. headtopics.com

After lawyers for Cohen and Trump filed legal action trying to block that process, U.S. District Court Judge Kimba Wood agreed to have the sorting and review overseen by an independent third party: retired Judge Barbara Jones.Wood agreed to appoint a special master after saying it could reinforce the “perception of fairness” in the high-profile case, although prosecutors in the Giuliani case emphasized in their letter to Oetken that she also said the appointment wasn’t needed to ensure “fairness itself.”

Wood’s decision seemed influenced by the fact that Trump, the Trump Organization and Cohen agreed to bear the costs of the review.It was not immediately clear who would pay for a special master in the Giuliani case or whether Trump would participate through his attorneys. A spokesperson for Trump, Jason Miller, did not respond to a request for comment.

Ultimately, more than 4 million items were reviewed stemming from the Cohen searches in a process that took several months.The latest developments follow a ruling last year by a Richmond, Va.-based federal appeals court in an unrelated case. A panel of that court rejected the Justice Department’s use of a taint team of government agents to sort through and categorize materials seized from a Baltimore law office.

Five days before the change in administration in January, the Justice Department asked the full bench of the 4th Read more: POLITICO »

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BULLSHIT turn EVERYTHING over total transparency; we don’t need another Bill Barr deciding what’s relevant We cannot drink oil. We cannot drink lithium. Thread: Poor Rudy is going to end up being trumps fall guy. I wonder if he realizes this yet? They're making sure they dot all of their 'I's and cross all of their 'T's because they want to ensure that charges stick.