Here's Why Attorney-Client Privilege Might Not Save President Trump or Michael Cohen

President Donald Trump is banking on attorney-client privilege to shield his sensitive communications with Michael Cohen from the prying eyes of federal investigators — but there's good reason to think it won't work.

As Mimi Rocah, former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, explained to Rachel Maddow Monday night, there are significant limits to attorney-client privilege. 

"The attorney-client privilege is hugely important, and prosecutors and judges take it extremely seriously, but it is narrow," Rocah said. "You have to have a real, attorney-client, confidential relationship, where I'm seeking legal advice."

She continued: "It doesn't seem like Mr. Cohen is someone you go to when you have a real legal, tough problem you want an answer to. ... They're really showing that in the nature of the few clients that he has, the type of matters he's been involved in, which is not legal representation but more being this 'fixer,' almost a businessman, really."

Even though he has a law degree, if Cohen was acting more like a businessman than a lawyer in his interactions with Trump, then attorney-client privilege won't hold, Rocah explained.

So Trump — as well as Sean Hannity — may be mistaken if he thinks his conversations with Cohen will all be protected simply because of attorney-client privilege. A team of investigators will work to determine exactly what parts of Cohen's communications are privileged, and which are open to investigators. If agents working for the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, which directed the recent raid on Cohen's office, discover evidence related to the special counsel's Russia investigation, they may even turn it over to Robert Mueller.

Watch the clip below:

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.