'Special master' in criminal probe of Trump lawyer Michael Cohen bills more than $47,000 for six days' work

Key Points
  • Barbara Jones, the document watchdog appointed to review files seized from President Donald Trump's long-time lawyer Michael Cohen, has billed more than $47,000 for her first week of work.
  • Cohen is due in federal court Wednesday for a hearing on files seized from his office and home by FBI agents.
  • Cohen is being investigated for a hush-money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels related to a purported affair with Trump.
  • Daniels' lawyer Michael Avenatti scoffed a claims that his actions are slowing down efforts by prosecutors to speak with her former attorney about the non-disclosure agreement she signed with Cohen.
'Special master' in probe of Trump lawyer Cohen bills more than $47,000 for six days' work
Watchdog in Michael Cohen case bills more than $47,000 for six days

A retired federal judge in charge of reviewing documents seized from President Donald Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen as part of a criminal probe billed more than $47,000 for just six days of work, according to a court filing.

Barbara Jones, who has been appointed as special master for a review of evidence seized from Cohen, submitted that eye-popping bill Tuesday, a day before Cohen is due to appear in US District Court in Manhattan for a hearing.

Jones, whose expenses are being split by Cohen and prosecutors, billed for $47,390 for work done from April 24 through April 30.

Trump lawyer Cohen suggests 4 names for 'special master' to review seized files in criminal probe
Trump lawyer Cohen suggests 4 names for 'special master' to review seized files in criminal probe

For most of the work, which comprised just shy of 70 hours, she billed at a rate of $700 per hour. No objection to her bill was raised by either side, Jones noted in her filing.

The Bracewell law firm attorney is tasked with checking to see that documents which should be subject to attorney-client privilege are not seen by prosecutors handling Cohen's criminal investigation.

Jones said she has reviewed 292,006 items so far from the raid and has already turned over portions of that to federal investigators.

Jones said materials have been broken into four categories:

  • Privileged Materials
  • Partially Privileged Materials
  • Non-Privileged Materials
  • Highly Personal Materials

Jones described "highly personal materials" as "medical records or similar materials."

Unless Cohen, Trump, or the Trump Organization mark the material as privileged or highly personal, she is releasing the material to prosecutors as soon as it is available.

So far Cohen, Trump (through his attorney), and or the Trump Organization have designated 252 items as being privileged.

At this point no final end date for the review has been detailed by the Special Master.

Cohen has not been charged in the case, but prosecutors are eyeing his business dealings and his $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels on the eve of the 2016 presidential election.

Daniels has said the payment was in exchange for her keeping mum about a 2006 affair with Trump, a tryst the White House denies happened. But Trump reimbursed Cohen for the payoff to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.

Wednesday's court hearing is set to provide Judge Kimba Wood an update on evidence seized from Cohen that is being reviewed by Jones.

Another issue expected to be addressed is a pending request by Daniels' lawyer Michael Avenatti to be admitted to the case to argue on Daniels' behalf, along with another local lawyer who is already representing her.

Avenatti, who practices law in California, is not admitted to federal court in New York, and therefore needs a special waiver to be granted by Wood to speak for Daniels in that venue.

On Monday, the Wall Street Journal, in an article quoting unidentified sources, said that Avenatti has "slowed down prosecutors' efforts to discuss the nondisclosure agreement with Ms. Clifford's former lawyer." The article said Avenatti has not acted on multiple requests by prosecutors to have Clifford waive her attorney-client privilege to allow her ex-attorney Keith Davidson discuss their communication about the hush-money pact.

Avenatti scoffed at that claim Tuesday.

"I speak with the US Attorneys' Office regularly about the case and we enjoy an excellent relationship," Avenatti wrote in an email to CNBC.

"We are continuing to do our part as it relates to providing information necessary for their investigation — I wish others would do the same," Avenatti wrote.

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