Trump found out as we did that the FBI seized records maintained by his attorney Michael Cohen. Trump describied the raid as a “disgraceful situation” and an “attack on our country in a true sense.”
At the outset, it’s important to note that the raid of Cohen’s office was NOT conducted by Robert Mueller, but by the FBI. It was conducted because a SEARCH WARRANT had been issued. That means a Judge found that there was probable cause to conduct the search.
The documents identified in the warrant date back years, according to a person briefed on the search. The search does not appear to be directly related to Mr. Mueller’s investigation, but most likely resulted from information that he had uncovered and gave to prosecutors in New York. The payment to the pornographic film actress, Stephanie Clifford, who is known as Stormy Daniels, is only one of many topics being investigated, according to a person briefed on the search. The F.B.I. also seized emails, tax documents and business records, the person said. Agents raided space Mr. Cohen uses in the Rockefeller Center office of the law firm Squire Patton Boggs, as well as a room Mr. Cohen is staying in at the Loews Regency Hotel on Park Avenue while his apartment is under renovation, the person said.
To obtain a search warrant, prosecutors must convince a federal judge that agents are likely to discover evidence of criminal activity. Trump has dismissed Mueller’s investigation as a “witch hunt,” but these warrants were obtained by an unrelated group of prosecutors. The searches required prior consultation with senior members of Mr. Trump’s own Justice Department.
The searches open a new front for the Justice Department in its scrutiny of Trump and his associates: His longtime lawyer is being investigated in Manhattan; his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is facing scrutiny by prosecutors in Brooklyn; his campaign chairman is under indictment; his former national security adviser has pleaded guilty to lying; and a pair of former campaign aides are cooperating with Mr. Mueller. Mr. Mueller, meanwhile, wants to interview Mr. Trump about possible obstruction of justice.
Mr. Cohen is a longtime lawyer and fixer who, in a decade at Mr. Trump’s side, has served as a reliable attack dog against real or perceived threats to Trump. The interesting twist that may have set the wheels in motion for this raid is the denial by Trump that he was aware of the payment of money to Stormy DAniels. By denying knowledge of that payment, Trump set himself up to be unable to claim attorney-client privledge regarding Cohen’s dealings with DAniels. Trump clearly doesn’t understand this as he tweeted this morning that:
“Attorney–client privilege is dead!”
Because Trump has denied knowledge of Cohen’s payment to Daniels, Trump never signed the agreement, and Cohen has said he used his own money to pay off Daniels, there is now the indication that Cohen WAS NOT acting as the attorney for Trump, but on his own accord.
The heat is on and Cohen may be unable to turn down the burner!