The FBI raided the offices of President Donald Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen on Monday. Cohen’s lawyer Steven Ryan said to the New York Times:
“Today the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York executed a series of search warrants and seized the privileged communications between my client, Michael Cohen, and his clients, I have been advised by federal prosecutors that the New York action is, in part, a referral by the Office of Special Counsel, Robert Mueller.”
No comment was made by the Special Counsel’s office regarding the searches, but they very likely mean that Mr. Cohen himself is part of a criminal investigation. As Cohen is an attorney, any communications made to him are privileged, and cannot be used, for instance, in a criminal case against his client Mr. Trump. But that is only true if they are for the purpose of soliciting legal advice or performing legal representation. One exception to the rule is when a communication is made to for the purpose of committing a crime or tort. There is of course no privilege rule for evidence of attorneys themselves violating the law.
The Washington Post issued a report Monday evening citing two unnamed sources, claiming Cohen “is under federal investigation for possible bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations, according to a person with knowledge of the case.” And that the records seized pertained to l’affaire de Stormy Daniels “according to another person familiar with the investigators’ work.”
Daniels, an adult film actress is currently suing Trump and Cohen, regarding a confidentiality agreement she signed in October of 2016. In return for $130,000, she promised never to speak about her sexual affair with Trump or private facts she learned while with him. Her suit alleges the agreement should be declared null and void. You can see more coverage of the Daniels suit on Libertynation.com here and here.
Mr. Cohen previously stated that he paid the $130,000 personally, that neither the Trump Organization or campaign was involved in the transaction, and that he has not been reimbursed.
Last week aboard Air Force One, President Trump was asked “Did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels” and replied with a flat “No.” When asked why then Cohen made the payment, Trump replied to reporters that they would have to ask Cohen.
Daniels appeared on CBS’s 60 Minutes show on March 25th, detailing her relationship with Trump. She alleges to have been the victim of a physical threat at the hands of a Trump-associated thug, threatening her in a parking lot in 2011. She claimed that was a few weeks after she offered to sell her account of her relationship with Trump for $15,000 to InTouch magazine:
I was in a parking lot, going to a fitness class with my infant daughter. T– taking, you know, the seats facing backwards in the backseat, diaper bag, you know, gettin’ all the stuff out. And a guy walked up on me and said to me, “Leave Trump alone. Forget the story.” And then he leaned around and looked at my daughter and said, “That’s a beautiful little girl. It’d be a shame if something happened to her mom.” And then he was gone.
On Sunday, Daniels’ attorney, former Rahm Emmanuel opposition researcher cum mass-tort superlawyer Michael Avenatti, tweeted photos of Ms. Daniels sitting with “Lois Gibson, the foremost forensic artist in the world.” Before that, he sent out the following via another tweet:
Expect a major announcement in the coming days regarding our efforts to identify the thug who threatened Ms. Clifford in Las Vegas in 2011 to “leave Trump alone” while making reference to her little girl. You can run but you can’t hide.
The same 60 Minutes program featuring Daniels also included a segment with Trevor Potter, a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission appointed by President George H.W. Bush. Potter claimed there was good cause to suspect the payment to Daniels was made in violation of campaign finance laws:
It’s a $130,000 in-kind contribution by Cohen to the Trump campaign, which is about $126,500 above what he’s allowed to give. And if he does this on behalf of his client, the candidate, that is a coordinated, illegal, in-kind contribution by Cohen for the purpose of influencing the election, of benefiting the candidate by keeping this secret.
Michael Cohen was named Executive Vice President of the Trump Organization and special counsel to Donald Trump in 2007. He has remained Trump’s attorney ever since, and was an early and primary mover of Trump’s political career, starting the website “Should Trump Run” as a way to generate interest in a 2012 run. Cohen does not hold any position in Trump’s administration.
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