Donald Trump

FBI Raids Trump’s Lawyer Michael Cohen’s Office And Home

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The FBI has raided President Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen’s office, home and hotel room. They seized documents related to several issues, including payments to porn star Stormy Daniels.

It is being reported that Cohen is under investigation for possible bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations. Stephen Ryan, Cohen’s lawyer released a statement that said the raids were “in part, a referral by the Office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

“The decision by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York to conduct their investigation using search warrants is completely inappropriate and unnecessary,” Ryan said. He also stated, “It resulted in the unnecessary seizure of protected attorney client communications between a lawyer and his clients. These government tactics are also wrong because Mr. Cohen has cooperated completely with all government entities, including providing thousands of non-privileged documents to the Congress and sitting for depositions under oath.”

It is extremely rare that an attorney’s office is raided because of attorney/client privilege, especially by the FBI. It is even rarer when it is the personal attorney of the President of the United States. This is reportedly not connected to the Russia investigation.

Some are saying it is connected to four New York properties that Cohen flipped for $20 million in profits to mysterious buyers. The properties were sold for millions above market value and stirred suspicions of money laundering. There is no way to know if that is part of this, but it could be. One of those sales was in 2014. Cohen acquired three other apartment buildings in the same time period, buying them for a total of about $9 million in late 2012. He sold them two years later for a total of over $20 million, even though their assessed value had hardly changed. He claimed the properties were sold as tax breaks to clients. “The buyer of all four properties is a New York real estate family fund that has been around for almost a century,” Cohen told McClatchy. “And yes, they are American.”

President Trump called the whole affair a “disgrace” and called the special investigation a “total witch hunt” and an “attack on our country.” Trump hinted at firing Mueller as well. When asked if he would fire him, Trump said: “We’ll see what happens..Many people have said you should fire him.” He also noted that firing former FBI Director James Comey turned out to be “the right thing.”

A spokesman for the Special Counsel referred Fox News to U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Title 28, Section 600.4 in regards to Mueller’s referral. The code states: “If in the course of his or her investigation the Special Counsel concludes that additional jurisdiction beyond that specified in his or her original jurisdiction is necessary in order to fully investigate and resolve the matters assigned, or to investigate new matters that come to light in the court of his or her investigation, he or she shall consult with the Attorney General, who will determine whether to include the additional matters within the Special Counsel’s jurisdiction or assign them elsewhere.”

Cohen has stated that he paid porn actress, Stormy Daniels, whose name is Stephanie Cliffords, $130,000 in 2016 to go away just as Trump’s campaign for the presidency got under way. Trump has denied knowing about the payment. Cliffords has claimed she had a one-time sexual encounter with Trump in 2006. She said Cohen paid her the money in the days before the election, as part of a nondisclosure agreement.

The FBI seized emails, tax documents and business records, a person briefed on the search told the New York Times. The seized records reportedly include communications between Trump and Cohen which should not be allowed. Cohen had been living in a hotel room while repairs were being done to his apartment, according to Fox News.

Mueller has eyed Cohen for some time now in his Russian investigation. Last month, Mueller “requested documents and interviewed witnesses about incidents” that involved Cohen. The Washington Post noted that nothing shows any indication “that Cohen is a subject or target of the investigation.” There is no word yet if Trump and Cohen have spoken about this.

As Legal Insurrection has pointed out, “the process of investigation is the reverse of what it should be. Mueller has identified the targets, being Trump and those around him, and then set out to find the crimes. Being near Trump means you will be subject to scrutiny to find a crime. In some cases that scrutiny may be minimal, in other cases, such as Paul Manafort, it could mean substantial criminal charges that likely never would have been brought but for Manafort being connected to Trump’s campaign for a relatively short time period.” Trump was duly elected President and there are an awful lot of people on Mueller’s team and in DOJ/FBI who still don’t accept that and want it over. Only one of them can win.

From Popehat, here is the reasoning for the raid:

1. According to Cohen’s own lawyer, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York (widely regarded within itself as being the most important and prestigious U.S. Attorney’s Office in the country) secured the search warrants for the FBI. Assuming this report is correct, that means that a very mainstream U.S. Attorney’s Office — not just Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office — thought that there was enough for a search warrant here.

2. Moreover, it’s not just that the office thought that there was enough for a search warrant. They thought there was enough for a search warrant of an attorney’s office for that attorney’s client communications. That’s a very fraught and extraordinary move that requires multiple levels of authorization within the Department of Justice.

3. A Magistrate Judge signed off on this. Federal magistrate judges (appointed by local district judges, not by the President) review search warrant applications. A Magistrate Judge therefore reviewed this application and found probable cause — that is, probable cause to believe that the subject premises (Cohen’s office) contains specified evidence of a specified federal crime. Now, Magistrate Judges sometimes are a little too rubber-stampy for my taste. But here, where the Magistrate Judge knew that this would become one of the most scrutinized search warrant applications ever, and because the nature of the warrant of an attorney’s office is unusual, you can expect that the Magistrate Judge felt pretty confident that there was enough there.

4. The search warrant application (the lengthy narrative from the FBI agent setting for the evidence) is almost certainly still under seal, and even Michael Cohen doesn’t get to see it [yet]. But the FBI would have left the warrant itself — and that shows (1) the federal criminal statutes they were investigating, and (2) the list of items they wanted to seize. Much can be learned for those. Assuming Michael Cohen doesn’t release it, watch for it to be leaked.

SOURCES: Breitbart, The Right Scoop, The Daily Caller, TheBlaze, Chicks on the Right, Fox News Insider, Constitution.com, McClatchy DC Bureau, The Daily Wire, Legal Insurrection, Popehat

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