Saturday, 18 August, 2018

FBI probing Cohen's "personal business dealings"

Michael Cohen Michael Cohen. Jonathan Ernst Reuters
Melinda Barton | 15 April, 2018, 21:22

A US prosecutor on Friday attacked a claim by President Donald Trump's longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen that numerous materials seized this week in FBI raids on Cohen's office and home as part of a criminal investigation should remain private.

A warrant used in the raid Monday specifically authorized agents to seize records related to McDougal, said one of the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the confidential details. Cohen will also reportedly seek an emergency stay of that lawsuit, citing the FBI's raid and the "overlapping" ongoing criminal investigation.

The cover comes after the Federal Bureau of Investigation earlier this week raided Cohen's office, seizing emails, documents and records, some of them related to his payment to adult-film star Stormy Daniels. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein personally approved the raid, The New York Times reported.

The White House remained defiant that the president has the power to directly fire Mueller - despite Justice Department regulations saying otherwise.

The search did not appear related to allegations of Russian election interference or possible coordination with the Trump campaign, the main focus of Mueller's probe.

But Mueller did have a hand in instigating the raids.

In the filing with a court in NY, prosecutors blacked out a section describing what crime they believe Trump attorney Michael Cohen has committed. Rosenstein then determines whether to allow Mueller to proceed or to assign the matter elsewhere.

The front of the building where President Donald Trumps personal attorney Michael Cohen lives in NY on Monday, April 9, 2018. She says she had an affair with Trump.

Previous reports said Federal Bureau of Investigation agents in the search had sought records on payments to Stormy Daniels and to another woman who claimed she had an affair with Trump. Daniels' team has had extensive communications with federal investigators, said the third person familiar with the investigation.

Daniels, whose given name is Stephanie Clifford, wants to be freed from a nondisclosure agreement under which she was paid $130,000 shortly before the 2016 presidential election to keep quiet about that encounter.

Cohen has said neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was involved in the transaction with Daniels and he was not reimbursed for the payment.

If there's anybody who knows a lot about Trump's legal and business orbit, it's his personal lawyer, known for acting more in the capacity as a fixer, dealmaker and media attack dog for Trump than as legal counsel.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders equated the effect of the investigation and Russia's support for Syrian dictator Bashar Assad.

To obtain a search warrant like the one executed against Cohen, agents must convince a judge they have probable cause of criminal activity and believe they'll find evidence of wrongdoing in a search.

Whether Cohen was recording conversations in his Trump Tower office was a source of concern to some Trump associates during the campaign, two former Trump campaign officials said. Do I need this in my life? No. He's pleaded not guilty.

In recent years, his taxis were managed by Gene Freidman, the so-called Taxi King of NY and a close friend.