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Prosecutors push back on Trump’s ‘untrue allegations’ about docs in Michael Cohen case

NEW YORK — The Manhattan district attorney’s office on Thursday said Donald Trump’s “wild and untrue allegations” that prosecutors trying the Stormy Daniels hush money case engaged in “misconduct and malfeasance” in tracking down paperwork tied to Michael Cohen’s conviction are “wholly unfounded” and don’t warrant the extreme punishment he’s asked for.

Judge Juan Merchan, who’s delayed Trump’s upcoming trial over the dispute, is expected to hear arguments about the documents on Monday when the trial was slated to begin. The timeline was thrown into question after prosecutors proposed a delay of no more than 30 days following the massive document dump by the feds related to Cohen, expected to be the trial’s star witness.

Trump’s lawyers have argued that prosecutors should have previously procured hundreds of thousands of documents in Cohen’s case the feds recently handed over in response to a subpoena by Trump, claiming they “improperly [selected]” materials solely that would help them.

But the DA’s office on Thursday said the “overwhelming bulk” of the documents recently handed over to them and Trump by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York were irrelevant to their hush money case.

Prosecutors said they “engaged in good faith and diligent efforts to obtain relevant information” from the feds before Trump’s indictment in spring 2023, including by requesting and obtaining “extensive evidence” about Cohen’s campaign finance convictions, which they disclosed to Trump.

After seeking court authorization, the feds handed over a tranche of paperwork. Still, they didn’t provide the DA with seized data from Cohen’s phones “because it would be unduly burdensome and because [the DA] had” already obtained Cohen’s phones by consent, the filing reads.

The DA’s office said the feds did not provide any FBI recordings of Cohen’s interviews in the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, which the DA conceded the feds didn’t entirely have. According to Thursday’s filing, the DA then made follow-up requests that were not fulfilled.

“These extensive efforts easily distinguish the circumstances here from cases where the People ‘made no attempt’ to obtain potentially relevant materials before filing a certificate of compliance,” Assistant District Attorney Matthew Colangelo.

The Republican presidential nominee has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in the case that carry up to four years in prison. DA Alvin Bragg alleges that during his first year in the White House, he concealed a series of checks to Cohen for a hush money payoff Cohen made to Daniels in 2016. Prosecutors say Trump hid the reimbursement to disguise an illegal hush money scheme carried out to secure his presidential victory that also included paying off Playboy model Karen McDougal and a Trump Tower doorman.

Trump, who has asked Merchan to throw out the case, in January subpoenaed the feds seeking info on Cohen’s campaign finance conviction and Mueller docs, which the DA partially opposed, leading to the rolling dump of documents a few weeks ago. Prosecutors noted Trump hadn’t raised any issue with them until the trial was around the corner, instead waiting until January to subpoena the feds.

Colangelo said Trump has no basis for accusing them of obstructing his efforts to obtain the documents or improperly requesting only information that would help them. He said that the trial delay Merchan ordered of around three weeks “is more than enough time for the parties to review” the documents.

“There was no improper selectivity here whatsoever — this was never a joint investigation; the People never had access to the [the feds’] case file; and there was nothing to ‘leave behind,” prosecutors wrote.

“The People sought records related to Cohen’s campaign finance violations because those violations were directly relevant to the criminal charges here; by contrast, Cohen’s other federal convictions are not related to the current charges at all.”

Trump’s lawyers did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment.