Donald Trump furious as FBI agents raid home and office of his personal lawyer Michael Cohen
FBI agents swooped in on the offices of longtime Donald Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen Monday – seizing a trove of documents related to the porn star Stormy Daniels case and communications between the attorney and the president, in a dramatic escalation of Robert Mueller’s special counsel probe.
They took his phone, personal computer and bank records – and he is now being investigated for both possible bank fraud and campaign finance violations, the Washington Post reported.
Among the records seized were those related to a 2016 payment Cohen made to adult-film star Stormy Daniels, who claims to have had a sexual encounter with Trump, according to another person familiar with the investigators’ work.
The raid was related to an investigation referred by Special Counsel Robert Mueller to federal prosecutors in New York, said Stephen Ryan, an attorney for Cohen.
Ryan called the tactics “inappropriate and unnecessary,” saying Cohen has “cooperated completely with all government entities, including providing thousands of non-privileged documents to the Congress and sitting for depositions under oath”.
Among the records seized by investigators were “protected attorney client communications,” Ryan said.
On Tuesday, Trump called the raid of his attorney’s office and home “a disgraceful situation.”
“I have this witch hunt constantly going on,” the president said.
Dawn Dearden, spokeswoman for the US attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York, declined to comment. Peter Carr, a spokesman for the special counsel’s office, declined to comment.
Squire Patton Boggs, the law firm that formed a strategic alliance with Cohen last year, said in a statement that its “arrangement with Mr Cohen reached its conclusion, mutually and in accordance with the terms of the agreement.
“We have been in contact with federal authorities regarding their execution of a warrant relating to Mr Cohen,” the firm said. “These activities do not relate to the firm and we are in full cooperation.”
The seizure of Cohen’s records was first reported by the New York Times.
Under Justice Department regulations governing the special counsel’s work, Mueller is required to consult with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein if his team finds information worth investigating that does not fall under his mandate.
Rosenstein, as the acting attorney general supervising Mueller’s work, has the responsibility of deciding whether to expand Mueller’s mandate to include the new topic or to refer it to a US attorney’s office.
Known for his combative style and fierce loyalty to Trump, Cohen served for a decade as a top lawyer at the Trump Organisation, tangling with reporters and Trump’s business competitors on behalf of the celebrity real estate mogul.
He never formally joined Trump’s campaign but was in close contact with his longtime boss from his Trump Tower office throughout the 2016 race and presidential transition.
Cohen left the Trump Organisation in January 2017, around the time of Trump’s inauguration, and since then has served as a personal attorney to the president.
Shut It Down!- @TomFitton: The Justice Dept is out of control with Mueller running the show. President @realDonaldTrump must take action and shut down the Special Counsel now. #MAGA #TrumpTrain #DTS #Dobbs pic.twitter.com/K8qGotpdzR
— Lou Dobbs (@LouDobbs) April 9, 2018
Attorney client record seizure generally requires Rosenstein’s personal approval. Did they request approval? What does it say about Rosenstein if he gave such approval? Would he want his wife’s records subpoenaed connected to her representing the Clintons? https://t.co/qwk4p6Vf1y
— Robert Barnes (@Barnes_Law) April 9, 2018