BREAKING: FBI Raids Office of Trump Attorney Cohen

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Breaking news this afternoon from the New York Times:

The F.B.I. on Monday raided the office of President Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, seizing records related to several topics including payments to a pornographic-film actress.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan obtained the search warrant after receiving a referral from the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, according to Mr. Cohen’s lawyer, who called the search “completely inappropriate and unnecessary.” The search does not appear to be directly related to Mr. Mueller’s investigation, but likely resulted from information he had uncovered and gave to prosecutors in New York.

“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,” said Stephen Ryan, his lawyer. “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.”

Mr. Cohen plays a role in aspects of the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. He also recently said he paid $130,000 to a pornographic-film actress, Stephanie Clifford, who said she had an affair with Mr. Trump. Ms. Clifford is known as Stormy Daniels.

Ruh-roh.

31 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Pseudonymous says:

    This is a big deal.  Not in terms of Russia, necessarily, but it's super tough to get permission to do this.

    From the manual of such things:  You have to try to do anything else besides the search; An AAG or USA has to authorize the warrant (these are the top officials directly under the Attorney General, and chief prosecutors appointed by the president); internal consultations; special procedures; narrowly-drawn warrant; review of materials by an independent party/DoJ team.

    They must've had some shit on old Mikey.  They also hit his home, his office, and a hotel room.  Not fucking around.

  2. Davie says:

    Perhaps here's why Mueller referred the case to the US Attorney in the Southern New York District:

    First, Mr. Cohen insisted, through his own lawyer, that the president was never aware of the agreement and that Mr. Cohen acted wholly on his own. Then, speaking briefly to reporters on Air Force One last Thursday, Mr. Trump, echoing Mr. Cohen, said that he knew nothing about the arrangement. In saying so, he walked directly into the buzz saw of the legal position of Ms. Daniels and her attorney, Michael Avenatti.

    The hush agreement identified Mr. Trump as a party and required him to do a number of things. But since he insists he didn’t know about the agreement, there’s no way he could have entered into it. Moreover, Mr. Trump’s avowed cluelessness implies that Mr. Cohen induced Ms. Daniels to sign the agreement through fraud — a lie about Mr. Trump’s performance of reciprocal obligations. Both of these circumstances invalidate the hush agreement’s very formation under basic contract law principles.

     

    Apparently, the Bullying Buffoon's bullying personal attorney is a buffoon too.

    Actually, after reading Pseudo’s post, this California action is the least of Mr. Cohen’s problems. But with both New York and California courts hammering Trump and Cohen, something is gonna go boom in the near future.

    • Pseudonymous says:

      I expect that to get the US attorney to do this that there is something much bigger cooking than a simple fraud.

      • Davie says:

        Yes, I realize that now.  The California case is the civil suit, which besides costing Cohen a bundle of money, might also result in sanctions or maybe worse.  The New York case has got to be criminal in nature.  We'll just have to wait and see if it circles back to Mueller's investigation, providing leverage for more indictments.

      • Washington Post says this is related to Stormy Daniels. It's based on a referral from Mueller's office. Campaign finance violation or something related to the payment would fit both…

        • Davie says:

          "…seizing records related to several topics including payments to a pornographic-film actress"

          Mueller doesn't care so much about Cohen, but Cohen's actions on behalf of Donald Trump and his family business, and a potential pattern of behavior that could lead to criminal charges would be of great interest to the NY US Attorney.  

          Follow the money…

        • Pseudonymous says:

          The article says that records about Daniels were "among the documents seized," rather than that they were the object of the warrants, although the current headline sensationalizes that part.

          My uninformed guess is something more like money laundering, possibly from foreign sources.  Maybe some associated criminal conspiracies. If they’re seizing confidential client documents, I’d expect they think he’s engaged in crimes with some clients, which would lift the attorney-client privilege.

          • mamajama55 says:

            I'll say it again – with all of his high crimes and misdemeanors, including selling out the government and security of the United States to a known enemy (Putin), it's supremely ironic that what Trump is going to get nailed for first is lying about who he had sex with and lying about the lying.

            Hypocritical Puritanism is alive and well in America.

            • unnamed says:

              True.  But it's like Al Capone getting nailed for tax evasion.

              • notaskinnycook says:

                yes. That's what I've been thinkin'. And I don't want any of the right-leaning Polsters pissing and moaning about "mission creep" in Meuller's investigation. From a land deal in Arkansas to a dalliance in the Oval Office was a pretty big leap, but it almost took a president down. 

          • Latest reports: bank fraud, campaign finance violations, and wire fraud (so far). It's still not clear why Mueller – who referred at least some of the material – and/or Rosenstein decided to hand this off to SDNY USA's office… (my guess is they agreed on the hand-off).

            The interim attorney for SDNY is a Trump supporter – had a personal interview with him, even. To have him sign off on asking for the warrant – and get a judge to agree to a no-knock raid on the President's personal attorney – there is definitely more than Stormy weather here. More, I think, than $150k contributions from Ukranian nationals, even.

  3. Gilpin Guy says:

    Bombs will start raining down on Syria/Iran/North Korea/That Caravan in 3,2,1

    • RepealAndReplace says:

      Time to wag the dog?

      • MADCO says:

        more better example of threadjacking

         

        I like the Cohen records search and seizure story. Somone should get disbarred… and I am pretty sure Trump never passed the bar so it won't be him.

         

        • Davie says:

          Disbarment followed by:

          Cohen apparently used a home equity credit line to borrow the $130,000 he paid Stormy Daniels for her silence just weeks before the 2016 election. If Cohen lied to obtain credit from a federally insured financial institution, that is a felony punishable by up to 30 years’ imprisonment. And because the payment was likely an in-kind contribution to the Trump campaign, it could constitute a willful violation of campaign contribution limits, a separate felony punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment.

          But what's really got Trump's panties in a twist is this:

          That the president of the United States is one file cabinet of seized evidence away from possible exposure to a felony charge is a remarkable thing.

          If the FBI seized evidence showing that Trump directed Cohen’s payment to Stormy Daniels, Trump may also have committed a felony violation of campaign finance law. If Cohen and Trump worked together to come up with the scheme, they might also both be guilty of conspiring to commit a campaign finance violation. And if Trump (notwithstanding his recent denial) actually knew that he was the beneficiary of the non-disclosure agreement, he might be guilty of a separate offense—failing to report that asset on his personal financial disclosure form.

          • Also, anything that involves Cohen knowingly committing a crime is exempt from attorney-client privilege. Things like taking to Felix Sater about working with Putin to win the election. Or asking for $150,000 from a Ukranian for a Trump speech during the campaign. Or joking references to any of a dozen Trump scam business ventures. Or stiffing contractors of payment while knowing they did their jobs.

            This isn't about Trump – but it could be very soon. The warrant will have been as narrow as was reasonable; the question is – what was alleged that rated a no-knock simultaneous raid?

    • mamajama55 says:

      That is so heartbreaking – if you look at who is actually in that caravan, it's mostly Honduran women and children, fleeing the murdering, raping gangsters.

      Certain incarceration in the US is a better option than staying where they are.

      Alex Witt had the story:

       

      • Diogenesdemar says:

        If only they were from Norwegia . . .

      • Gilpin Guy says:

        The ICE would probably deport these moms in 24 hours and the Evangelicals would be cheering.  That's how screwed up our country is right now.

        • Duke Cox says:

          The big mistake most people make in understanding evangelicals is the erroneous belief that they share the commitment to love and forgiveness preached by their savior, whom they claim to worship and emulate. The evangelical community is now a fearful, hateful, movement led by #ProsperityJesus and a cabal of corporate thieves that are busy laundering money and capturing the media.

          They are dangerous. They are a threat to our national security.

           

  4. MichaelBowman says:

    OH PLEASE (channeling my inner-nutter)

  5. davebarnes says:

    Ask yourself these questions:

    Where is Eric Schneiderman vis à vis indictments of Trump and his cronies?
    Where is Cyrus Vance vis à vis indictments of Trump and his cronies?
    Where is Richard A Brown vis à vis indictments of Trump and his cronies?

  6. Pseudonymous says:

    If you're interested in a good explainer on why this raid matters, check out this op-ed at the NYT.

    Why the F.B.I. Raid Is Perilous for Michael Cohen — and Trump

  7. Davie says:

    It just keeps getting worse for Trump's consigliere (from the New York Times):

    A federal criminal defense lawyer’s favorite advice, delivered with varying degrees of diplomacy and accompanying obscenities, is “shut up.” Mr. Cohen would not be the first person to ignore such advice, nor the first person to talk himself into trouble. Many of the people Mr. Mueller has snared to date have fallen into that category, finding themselves charged for lying to the investigative team.

    But consider this: The Stormy Daniels payout may be outside the scope of the Russia investigation, but it’s possible that Mr. Cohen’s records are full of materials that are squarely within that scope. And the law is clear: If investigators executing a lawful warrant seize evidence of additional crimes, they may use that evidence. Thus Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen, with their catastrophically clumsy handling of the Daniels affair, may have handed Mr. Mueller devastating evidence.

    It’s easy to conclude that after so many bombshells, this is just another overfrantic news cycle. It’s not. It’s highly dangerous, and not just for Mr. Cohen. It’s perilous for the president, whose personal lawyer now may face a choice between going down fighting alone or saving his own skin by giving the wolves what they want.

  8. Pseudonymous says:

    Well, this is interesting.

    The one-two scoops here on Rosenstein personally approving the Cohen warrant applications — https://t.co/bd4oOs9WUI — and Berman recusal — https://t.co/V4cUMj3PNN — are important pieces of information, but neither is necessarily surprising.

    — Chris Geidner (@chrisgeidner) April 10, 2018

    Trump's recusal fuse is gonna pop again.  The USA (Berman) recusing himself also means this, apparently.

    BTW, if Berman is recused, the #2 at SDNY is Robert Khuzami, "a prosecutor in the Southern District from 1990 to 2002" who served as the SEC enforcement chief under Obama: https://t.co/pN54vmGio8

    — Chris Geidner (@chrisgeidner) April 10, 2018

    • Duke Cox says:

      Really interesting reading, guys ( in the non-gender sense of the word😉), thanks for sharing.

      This all sounds like excrement striking the the rotating cooling device….of course, I have thought that before…

      The thing I enjoy is knowing those smart ass idealogues and smirking political bullies are shitting bricks and throwing them at each other…😁

    • Davie says:

      I'm glad to see that the DOJ and the US Attorney's office appear to be doing things strictly by the book.  And that none of them are willing to stick their necks out one inch to "protect" Trump (who only believes in one-way loyalty).

      I believe the (cow) chips are starting to fall where they may, letting justice prevail.  Even Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley is advising Trump to just shut up and not even think about firing Mueller (or anyone else involved in this investigation, for that matter).

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