Federal Bureau of Investigation raid on Trump lawyer's office: What you need to know

Wednesday, 11 Apr, 2018

A day after both his home and office were raided by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents, Michael Cohen, US President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, filed a motion on Tuesday to dismiss the defamation lawsuit adult film actress Stormy Daniels filed against him. Special Counsel Robert Mueller had to inform Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees his probe; submit a detailed explanation of what he was seeking to the department's Criminal Division; and get the approval of the USA attorney for the Southern District of NY.

Trump slammed the move as a "disgraceful situation" and "an attack on our country", reports CNN. In fact, the special counsel was technically not in charge of the raid, which was carried out under the direction of the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of NY.

The search warrant carried out by the public corruption unit of the New York City federal attorney's office seeks information about Karen McDougal, an ex-Playboy model who claims she carried on a almost yearlong affair with Trump shortly after the birth of his son in 2006.

Attorney-client privilege is the bedrock of lawyering in the United States., and the FBI's move against Cohen, including its seizure of documents relating to his dealings with Trump, sent shockwaves through the legal fraternity.

The raid creates a new legal headache for Trump as he and his attorneys weigh whether to agree to an interview with Mueller's team, which in addition to investigating potential ties between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign is also examining whether the president's actions constitute obstruction of justice.

Cohen has said he made the payment from his own pocket, taking out a home equity line of credit to do so.

Senior members of the U.S. Congress have repeatedly urged Trump not to fire the special counsel.

Bump also acknowledged that it is unknown what specifically the FBI was searching for and what they eventually found, much less whether what they found will hinder or advance various investigations.

"The Cohen search warrant nearly certainly included decision-making or approval on the part of the second-highest-ranking person at the Justice Department [deputy attorney general Rod J. Rosenstein], a federal judge and the US attorney or an assistant attorney general", explained Bump.

The FBI raid involved a dozen agents and included the hotel where Cohen has been living, according to a source that spoke to CNN.

McCallion is a former special assistant attorney general with the U.S. Department of Justice and assistant U.S. attorney.

Based on his experience with cases involving issues of attorney-client privilege, Litman said is likely that the prosecution never sees 80% or more of the documents.

Neither Cobb nor McGahn responded on Tuesday to requests for comment. White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders and the U.S. attorney's office also had no comment. So for at least some potential crimes, it may be too late for Trump to fire Mueller.

Cohen has more recently attracted attention for his acknowledgment that he paid Daniels US$130,000 out of his own pocket shortly before the 2016 presidential election. But the critics have suggested that $130,000 payment announced to a campaign contribution aimed at helping Trump at elections by keeping the Daniels allegation secret.

According to the Washington Post, investigators are examining whether Mr. Cohen may have violated campaign-finance laws or statutes against bank fraud.

Were Rosenstein fired, authority over Mueller's investigation would kick down to solicitor general Noel Francisco until a permanent replacement was identified.

And the attorney general, Mr. Trump also said, "made a bad mistake" when he recused himself, and he "should have let us know if he was going to recuse himself".

However, the payment to Stormy Daniels thrust Cohen into the full glare of scrutiny. The newspaper identified the second woman as Karen McDougal, an ex-Playboy model who said she had an affair with Trump shortly after the birth of his son in 2006.

'The attorney general made a bad mistake when he did this, and when he recused himself, ' Trump said.

Put more bluntly, prosecutors might have feared that attorney Michael Cohen would hide, or even destroy, incriminating evidence if they did not seize it first, said Martin Healy, chief counsel for the Massachusetts Bar Association.