The federal judge who, on Monday, repeatedly ruled against President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, is Kimba Wood, who dominated headlines 25 years ago when she nearly became Bill Clinton’s second nominee for Attorney General of the United States.
Cohen and his own lawyers entered Wood’s courtroom of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) on Monday seeking a temporary restraining order to prevent federal prosecutors from looking through the reams of material they seized in a raid on Cohen’s offices last week.
Cohen is under investigation for an undisclosed crime, possibly related to porn star Stephanie “Stormy Daniels” Clifford’s alleged receipt of $130,000 for silence after she claimed a sexual affair with Trump 12 years ago. The raid on his offices was widely understood to have been arranged by special counsel Robert Mueller’s coordination with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the SDNY. The connection to Mueller’s own purview, alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, is unclear.
Judge Wood rejected Cohen’s request, dismissing any notion that attorney-client privileged material might be compromised and saying, according to ABC 7 News, “I have faith in the Southern District prosecutors, that their integrity is unimpeachable.”
Before her ruling, however, Wood went even further, demanding Cohen’s lawyers name another one of Cohen’s celebrity clients, Fox News host Sean Hannity. Hannity, who, on his radio and television programs, has been highly critical of the Cohen raids and investigation, quickly expressed his outrage with his loss of confidentiality with a lawyer whose advice he had sought:
Michael Cohen has never represented me in any matter. I never retained him, received an invoice, or paid legal fees. I have occasionally had brief discussions with him about legal questions about which I wanted his input and perspective.
I assumed those conversations were confidential, but to be absolutely clear they never involved any matter between me and a third-party.
The Cohen case, however, is hardly Judge Wood’s first entry into the cutthroat arena of national politics. Her name graced the covers of newspapers across the country in 1993, when the newly elected President Bill Clinton pulled back from nominating her as his first attorney general when it became clear she had employed an illegal alien as a nanny. The embarrassment to the new Clinton administration, who was dead set on nominating the first female attorney general, was exacerbated by the fact that their first pick, Zoe Baird, had to be withdrawn for exactly the same indiscretion. Eventually, Clinton would successfully nominate Janet Reno as America’s first woman AG.
Judge Wood, having missed her chance to enter the executive branch, remained an SDNY judge, but she has hardly steered clear from the political left and controversy, more generally, since 1993. For example, Wood officiated at left-wing billionaire George Soros’s third wedding in 2013.
A renowned beauty trained as a Playboy bunny, whom a blog popular among liberal lawyers once cited as the top “Female Superhottie of the Federal Judiciary,” Wood was also revealed as the “other woman” in a 1995 New York City society-page fodder divorce, which eventually ended her own marriage to Time magazine journalist Michael Kramer.