The US Attorney for the Southern District of New York conducted an unexpected raid of Michael Cohen’s office and personal residance the this afternoon in New York City.
The New York Times reported that agents took Cohen’s “emails, tax documents and business records from his office”.
The Washington Post reports that Mr. Cohen is being investigated for bank fraud, and campaign finance violations.
The raid was approved by a federal judge, and served on both Cohen’s private office, and his room at the plush Loewes Regency hotel, where he has been living for an extended period of time.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller turned over information to New York State authorities after conferring with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who agreed that the matter should be turned over to the concerned US attorney’s office.
The feeling is that whatever is being investigated falls outside of Mueller’s jurisdiction, and therefore cannot take place under the increasingly expanding probe into Russian interference.
For his part, Cohen has been tenatively tied to criminal activity going back almost 11 years.
His much discussed $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels during the dog days of the election has raised eyebrows because it appears to have violated federal law, and sources are indicating documents related to that payment were siezed in the raid.
Cohen also incoporated a shell company to make the payment, which qualified it as an illegal campaign donation according to legal experts.
President Trump has denied knowledge of the payment, or the agreement.
The legality of the raid has been under intense scrutiny since details of the sting became public a few hours ago, there is concern among legal scholars(and the White House) about what will happen to siezed documents/communications that fall under attorney client privilege.
It appears this is exactly why Mueller enlisted state authorities, so that a “clean team” could review the documents, sort out what meets the standard of privilege, and move forward with an indictment.
Donald Trump on investigators: This is the most biased group of people … they’re not looking at the “horrible things” Hillary Clinton did “and all of the crimes that were committed” https://t.co/nE84cRwUkh pic.twitter.com/WtnVeQNdSh
— The Situation Room (@CNNSitRoom) April 9, 2018
If anything, the development confirms there is at least two seperate criminal investigations into Donald J. Trump’s inner circle, and the fact that Mueller would be this aggressive indicates that we are entering the climax of this story.
Mueller is uninterested in cooperation at this stage, that’s what todays move implies.
The chain of events rocked the White House, specifically the President, who seemed slightly unhinged when reacting to news of the raid, and the possibility that the Russia investigation is headed in his direction.
JUST IN: President Trump responds to question "why don't you just fire Mueller?"
"Well, I think it's a disgrace what's going on. We'll see what happens … many people have said you should fire him. Again, they found nothing." pic.twitter.com/1k1bkdb7LZ
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) April 9, 2018
The video clips say it all.
An innocent man, let alone an innocent President of the United States, would not go on national television after the FBI unleashes a high profile raid, and denounce the investigators while also attempting to convince the country that the rule of American law is flawed, that the investigators have a political agenda.
This is perhaps the guiltiest the President has looked over the course of the 2 year investigation into Russian meddling by the FBI, his personal attorney getting stung by the feds is a massive escalation.
For the first time, President Trump appeared to be truly terrified, his performance this evening with the entire country watching was that of a man who knows his string has run out.
Lets face it, if you are the subject of a criminal investigation, and then your lawyer( who pays off porn stars) gets raided by the FBI, it’s going to be difficult to convince people that you are the victim of a witch hunt.