NEW YORK -- Federal prosecutors said Wednesday that they can give President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, copies of most of the materials seized from him by the FBI by May 11.
The U.S. attorney's office in New York told U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood that it can begin turning over materials April 27.
The office expects most of the items to be handed over within two weeks, though it could take longer to extract information from seized telephones, the letter said.
Prosecutors have disclosed that they are investigating Cohen's personal business dealings for fraud but haven't said what crime they believe he has committed. Cohen's lawyers have called the raid an attack on attorney-client privilege.
Wood said at a hearing Monday that she might grant a request by Cohen's attorneys to appoint a neutral lawyer known as a "special master" to help resolve some conflicts over attorney-client privilege, though she said she anticipated that person would have a limited role.
Prosecutors recommended she set a May 25 date for a court conference to decide the issue.
Each side on Wednesday suggested several candidates for special master. Among names offered by Cohen's lawyers was Bart Schwartz, an attorney who once worked as chief of the criminal division when former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani was the U.S. attorney in Manhattan in the 1980s.
Giuliani campaigned with Trump during his 2016 run to the presidency.
Prosecutors offered the names of three retired magistrate judges who they said had plenty of experience at resolving attorney-client privilege issues.
Later Wednesday, Trump suggested that he is in no hurry to fire either special counsel Robert Mueller or Mueller's boss, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and asserted again that the inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election is part of "a hoax."
"They've been saying I'm going to get rid of them for the last three months, four months, five months, and they're still here," Trump told reporters alongside visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. "So we want to get the investigation over with, done with, put it behind us."
Hours earlier, Trump took to Twitter to deny that he fired James Comey as FBI director because of the bureau's "phony" Russia investigation, including possible interaction with the Trump campaign. Mueller was appointed days after Comey's firing.
Trump's tweet came shortly after an appearance by Comey on NBC's Today show to promote his new book, during which Comey asserted there "could be" an obstruction of justice case to be made against Trump given the circumstances under which he was fired.
"Slippery James Comey, the worst FBI Director in history, was not fired because of the phony Russia investigation where, by the way, there was NO COLLUSION (except by the Dems)!" Trump wrote on Twitter.
During the segment, anchor Savannah Guthrie referred to comments Trump made in a May interview with NBC's Lester Holt that seemed to suggest Trump's rationale for firing Comey include the FBI's Russia investigation.
"When I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, 'You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it's an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should've won,'" Trump told Holt.
On Wednesday, Guthrie asked Comey if one could bring an obstruction case against Trump based on those comments.
"You might," Comey said. "It would depend on what all the other facts are around that."
He later said it "could be obstruction of justice."
Separately Wednesday, a former Playboy model who said she had a 10-month affair with Trump settled her lawsuit with a supermarket tabloid over an agreement that prohibited her from discussing the relationship publicly.
Karen McDougal's settlement with the company that owns the National Enquirer "restores to me the rights to my life story and frees me from this contract that I was misled into signing nearly two years ago," she said in a statement.
In August 2016, the tabloid's parent company, American Media Inc., paid McDougal $150,000 for the rights to her story about the alleged relationship, but the story never ran.
Last month, McDougal filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles asking to invalidate the contract. The suit also claimed Cohen was secretly involved in her discussions with American Media executives.
In their raid of Cohen's office and residence last week, federal agents sought, among other things, information on payments made in 2016 to McDougal and porn actress Stormy Daniels, according to people familiar with the investigation but not authorized to discuss it publicly. Daniels has said she had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006.
Under the settlement agreement, McDougal can keep the $150,000 she was paid and American Media has the rights to up to $75,000 for any future profits from her story about the relationship. The company also retains the rights to photographs of McDougal that it already has, the settlement said.
The White House has said Trump denies having an affair with McDougal.
Information for this article was contributed by Larry Neumeister and Michael Balsamo of The Associated Press and by John Wagner and Anne Gearan of The Washington Post.
A Section on 04/19/2018
Print Headline: Cohen gets evidence by May 11, U.S. says