U.S. prosecutors say retired judge should review Giuliani evidence

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, then-personal attorney to U.S. President Donald Trump, speaks in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., November 7, 2020. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

WASHINGTON, June 4 (Reuters) - U.S. prosecutors on Thursday said they had reached an agreement with Rudy Giuliani on who should serve as the court-appointed "special master" tasked with reviewing evidence seized from the former Donald Trump lawyer in an April 28 raid.

Federal prosecutors said in a letter to U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken in New York that they and Giuliani favored Barbara Jones, a retired judge, for the crucial role in the ongoing criminal investigation into Giuliani's business dealings in Ukraine.

"The Government respectfully requests that the Court appoint Judge Jones to serve as the special master in this matter because her background and the resources available to her at her law firm will allow her to complete a privilege review in a fair and efficient manner," prosecutors said, adding that Giuliani "agreed to the appointment of Judge Jones."

A special master is a third party, typically a retired judge, who reviews documents and filters out materials that cannot be used by prosecutors as evidence because they are covered by attorney-client privilege.

Oetken must still approve the selection, but Jones appears likely to get the judge's approval. Jones performed the same role in the criminal investigation into Michael Cohen, another former Trump lawyer, which ended in Cohen pleading guilty and serving prison time.

Oetken said on May 28 that appointing a special master would "ensure the perception of fairness" in reviewing the 18 devices, including cellphones and computers, taken during the April 28 raids.

Oetken asked prosecutors and Giuliani to confer and suggest someone for the role.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have been examining Giuliani's dealings in Ukraine, including whether he violated lobbying laws by acting as an unregistered foreign agent while working as a lawyer for then-U.S. President Donald Trump.

He began representing Trump in April 2018 as Special Counsel Robert Mueller was probing Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Giuliani also sought before the 2020 U.S. presidential election to uncover damaging information about Democrat Joe Biden, who defeated Trump, and Biden's son Hunter.

Reporting by Jan Wolfe; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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