How Significant Is It That The FBI Searched Michael Cohen's Office?
- Author: Rogelio Becker Apr 12, 2018,
Apr 12, 2018, 6:18
The news that the Federal Bureau of Investigation raided the offices of President Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen Monday caused many people to wonder how such a raid could be justified given the protections afforded under attorney-client privilege.
The White House remained defiant that the president has the power to directly fire Mueller - despite Justice Department regulations saying otherwise.
The person familiar with the investigation, who wasn't authorized to discuss it and spoke on condition of anonymity, said the probe by the public corruption unit of the U.S. Attorney's office in Manhattan is trying to determine if there was any fraud related to the payments.
To obtain a search warrant, prosecutors in the United States must demonstrate to a judge that they have probable cause to believe the attorney's premises contain evidence of crime; specify the area to be searched and the items to be seized; and the word searches to be used in probing computer content.
The Cohen raids required high-level authorization within the Justice Department. Mueller has also charged Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, who has pleaded not guilty, and 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities.
"This action could not have taken place without the review and approval of a series of independent officials, including Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, whom I appointed". Whatever the subject matter of this particular investigation, it apparently falls outside of Mueller's jurisdiction and thus resulted in his referral to the NY prosecutors.
Information for this article was contributed by John Wagner, Devlin Barrett and Sean Sullivan of The Washington Post; by Eric Tucker, Chad Day, Michael Balsamo, Tom Hays, Jake Pearson and Mary Clare Jalonick of The Associated Press; by Michael D. Shear, Matt Apuzzo, Michael S. Schmidt, Sharon LaFraniere and Maggie Haberman of The New York Times; and by Chris Sommerfeldt of the New York Daily News.
Cohen has said he took out a personal line of credit on his home to pay Daniels days before the 2016 election and without Trump's knowledge.
Several former officials at the Federal Election Commission have said the payment appears to be a violation of campaign finance laws, and multiple Washington-based groups have filed complaints with the FEC, urging it to investigate.
The Cohen raid was not conducted by investigators working for Mueller. And then you have to make sure - there's a number of guidelines within that the Justice Department has, but one of them is that the search warrant has to be written as narrowly as possible so that you make sure that you're not gaining more evidence than you need.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders equated the effect of the investigation and Russia's support for Syrian dictator Bashar Assad.
McDougal has said she carried on an affair with Trump in 2006 after the birth of his son. She has been suing to invalidate the nondisclosure agreement she signed before the election and has offered to return the $130,000 she was paid in order to "set the record straight".
The scandal has since snowballed and entangled the President and one of his closest allies - Cohen, his personal legal counsel.
Clifford's attorney, Michael Avenatti, said it should be settled in open court.
From there, Cohen became a fixture in the president's organization. The source said Cohen kept extensive electronic records.
On Monday, the firm said in a statement that its relationship with Cohen had "reached its conclusion, mutually and in accordance with the terms of the agreement".
It's no wonder that the President is so sensitive about Cohen.
In his statement, Avenatti says he and Daniels "will fully cooperate with any search for the truth regarding the threats, cover-up and lies concerning the NDA and $130k payment".