(National Sentinel)Â Illegal: Harvard Law professor and constitutional expert Alan Dershowitz said Tuesday that the FBI’s seizure of documents belonging to Michael Cohen, President Donald J. Trump’s personal attorney, was a major constitutional violation.
In an interview with the UK’sÂ Daily Mail, Dershowitz — who ate dinner with Trump hours after his interview — that much of what was seized, following a referral from special counsel Robert Mueller, is covered by attorney-client privilege.
He noted that prosecutors are not permitted to see those files, and the Justice Department’s practice of setting up “taint teams” — government agents and lawyers who comb through material to weed out the privileged information — “don’t work,” Dershowitz.
That’s because seizing those documents in the first place violated Cohen’s constitutional rights, even if they’re never used in court.
He also said it was “rare” for the FBI to serve a no-knock warrant on an attorney in such a high-profile case.
And while taint teams are inherently fair at the federal level, the constitutional issue is much more important, said Dershowitz.
“IfÂ the government improperly seizes private or privileged material, the violation has already occurred, even if the government never uses them,” said the law professor, citing the Sixth Amendment’s guarantee of the “assistance of counsel,” which the government is not permitted to interfere with.
“Remember who comprises the firewall and taint teams,” he said, quoting in an email from what he said was a forthcoming column. It’s “other FBI agents, prosecutors and government officials who have no right under the Fourth and Sixth Amendments, even to see private or confidential materials, regardless whether it is ever used against a defendant.”
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