Giuliani, Prosecutors Pick Ex-Judge to Review Raid Evidence
(Bloomberg) -- A retired Manhattan federal judge who once worked as a prosecutor under Rudy Giuliani is expected to be appointed to review evidence seized from the former New York mayor and personal lawyer to Donald Trump for materials protected by attorney-client privilege.
Giuliani and federal prosecutors in Manhattan agreed to propose that Barbara Jones, 73, be appointed special master for that purpose. She served in a similar role after search warrants were executed on another Trump lawyer, Michael Cohen, in 2018.
U.S. District Judge Paul Oetken said on Friday he would appoint Jones subject to her confirmation that there were no grounds for her to be disqualified. Jones filed a declaration with the court shortly thereafter attesting that she knew of no grounds for disqualification.
“Judge Jones ‘efficiently and meticulously reviewed’ tens of thousands of items over a period of four months and made privilege designations that were not objected to by the parties” in the Cohen case, prosecutors said in a court filing Thursday. “The government has conferred with Judge Jones and she is available to accept this appointment.”
Federal Bureau of Investigation agents collected Giuliani’s personal electronic devices and computers in April 28 raids on his Manhattan home and office.
Giuliani is under investigation for possible undisclosed foreign lobbying on behalf of Ukrainian interests. He was active in the country trying to dig up political dirt on Joe Biden ahead of the 2020 election and sought the removal of the then-U.S. ambassador, but Giuliani has denied working for anyone in Ukraine and said his only client was Trump.
Jones was appointed to the federal bench by Bill Clinton in 1995. Before that, she spent many years as a prosecutor. In 1984, Jones became the first woman to head the organized crime unit of the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office, which Giuliani led at the time.
As a judge, she oversaw the trial of WorldCom’s Bernie Ebbers and sentenced him to 25 years in prison for orchestrating an $11 billion accounting fraud. Jones retired from the bench in 2013 and became a private lawyer, most recently at Bracewell LLP. Giuliani was also previously a partner at Bracewell, but left the firm a few months before Jones joined in 2016.
In her role as special master, Jones will decide what records seized from Giuliani may contain privileged communications off-limits to prosecutors. She will also review material collected from Victoria Toensing, a Washington lawyer close to Trump who turned over her iPhone to FBI agents on April 28.
Jones took about two months to complete her assignment in the Cohen case. She determined that only 161 items out of some 3.7 million seized by the FBI should be withheld from prosecutors as privileged or highly personal. Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance and other violations later in 2018 and was sentenced to three years in prison.
Cohen, who has since become a fierce critic of Trump, said he expected her to work equally expeditiously this time. “Judge Jones is not one who sits idly by allowing defense counsel to delay her from doing her job,” he said.
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