FBI agents seized the computer, phone and personal financial records of President Donald Trump’s longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen during a raid of his office and hotel room on Monday, The Washington Post reported.
Under the direction of special counsel Robert Mueller, the FBI’s investigation into the president has primarily focused on alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. However — although still likely under Mueller’s direction — the raids of Cohen’s office were completely unrelated to the Russia investigation.
According to a report from The New York Times on Wednesday, agents were searching for information that would show Cohen attempted to stop the leaking of damaging information about Trump before the 2016 election, including the now infamous “Access Hollywood” tape.
“People close to Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen regard the warrant as an attempt by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, to pry into Mr. Trump’s personal life — using other prosecutors as his proxy,” the Times explained.
RAND PAUL: FBI raid on Michael Cohen's office was an abuse of power, "we’ve given [Mueller] too much power to a prosecutor.” pic.twitter.com/VIxD9JJ9vg
— Josh Caplan (@joshdcaplan) April 11, 2018
A report from the Times earlier this week stated that agents were also looking for records regarding adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, commonly known as Stormy Daniels, and ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal.
“The FBI agents who raided the office of President Trump’s personal lawyer on Monday were looking for records about payments to two women who claim they had affairs with Mr. Trump, and information related to the publisher of The National Enquirer’s role in silencing one of the women, several people briefed on the investigation said,” The New York Times reported.
Cohen’s lawyer Stephen Ryan called the raids “completely inappropriate and unnecessary.”
“It resulted in the unnecessary seizure of protected attorney client communications between a lawyer and his clients,” Ryan said. “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.”
As noted by the Times, “the search is an aggressive move for the Justice Department, which normally relies on grand jury subpoenas to obtain records from people who are represented by lawyers and are cooperating with authorities. Search warrants are more often used in cases in which prosecutors do not trust people to preserve or turn over the records themselves.”
President Trump told reporters Monday that he considers the raid a “witch hunt.”
“It’s a disgraceful situation,” he said. “I have this witch hunt constantly going on.”
“It’s an attack on on our country (and) what we all stand for.”
The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro noted the stark difference between how the FBI is treating this investigation versus how it treated the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server — particularly with regard to its handling of Clinton’s personal attorney, Cheryl Mills.
“Hillary wasn’t merely allowed to delete 33,000 documents from her computer server three weeks after revelations that she had a private computer server,” Shapiro stated.
“She was protected by the DOJ and the FBI, which allowed her personal attorney, Cheryl Mills — who was also under investigation — to invoke attorney-client privilege to stop the FBI from investigating Hillary’s email scheme.”
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