When federal prosecutors apply for a search warrant on the premises of an attorney, Justice Department policy requires the approval of either the district's U.S. attorney or the assistant U.S. attorney general, NBC News reported.
That's how serious the department takes searches like the one executed Monday on the law office of Michael Cohen, personal lawyer to President Donald Trump.
U.S. attorneys are trained to look for alternatives to such mass seizures of records from practicing lawyers, since it could potentially damage their attorney-client relationships. And when documents are acquired, prosecutors are required to follow procedures that guarantee privileged materials are not viewed, seized or retained.
But an attorney like Cohen may lose the privilege with his clients under the "crime-fraud exception," which assures that the privilege doesn't cover advice in furthering contemplated or ongoing criminal or fraudulent content.