As the Manhattan District Attorney’s ongoing case against the former president builds toward a trial next year, Trump’s lawyers subpoenaed Cohen—who is a key witness to Trump’s porn star hush money coverup, according to documents obtained by The Daily Beast.
On Oct. 17, Trump lawyers Susan R. Necheles and Gedalia M. Stern filed a formal demand that Cohen fork over “all documents and communications regarding the topics below that are stored on any medium under your possession or control, including but not limited to phones (including encrypted messaging applications), tablets, computers, and hard copy.”
DA Alvin Bragg Jr.’s team is now scrambling to block the request, citing a growing concern at what it calls Trump’s “witness intimidation” and asking the state judge overseeing the case to intervene. His prosecutors say Trump is trying to abuse the regular document-sharing that occurs before a trial, using that exchange as an excuse to get information that’ll fuel his personal vendetta against the guy who once served as his right-hand man at the Trump Organization.
In a legal memo filed on Tuesday, prosecutor Matthew Colangelo called the latest Trump subpoena “an extraordinarily broad document demand that exceeds every parameter on the allowable scope of a trial subpoena.”
There’s a growing concern that the former president—who has shown no restraint in attacking political enemies as he seeks a return to the White House in 2024—would misuse the text messages, photos, or any other information on Cohen’s cell phone. Prosecutors explained that Cohen might be forced to turn over information that Trump “may then disseminate without restriction, posing a serious risk of witness intimidation and harassment and evading the court's existing protective order that governs the use of discovery materials in this case.”
Instead of focusing on the felony case at hand, Colangelo said, Trump is actually just trying to fuel his separate legal war against his former attorney—one who has transformed into a whistleblower of sorts who’s actively assisting law enforcement and congressional investigators.
Trump sued Cohen in Florida federal court in April, alleging that Cohen violated his duty as a personal attorney by dishing out client secrets. Notably, Trump dropped that lawsuit just before he was to sit down in a deposition and answer questions last month.
But Trump could always revive that lawsuit, and that’s what has prosecutors worried.
“Rather than seek specific documents tailored to the determination of defendant's guilt or innocence, the subpoena is a scattershot request for years and years of records that appears designed to ascertain the existence of evidence, fish for impeaching material, circumvent limits on discovery in this criminal case, and serve as discovery for the $500 million civil damages lawsuit defendant has promised to re-file against Cohen,” prosecutors wrote.
When reached on Thursday morning, Necheles declined to comment.
Cohen issued a statement ripping his old boss for “his relentless pursuit of harassment and intimidation against me,” adding that he will fight it in court.
“Donald and his counsel need to be sanctioned and fined for their, yet again, frivolous action,” he said.