Trump furious after FBI seizes documents from his lawyer
Federal agents on Monday raided the office of President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen, seizing records on topics including a $130,000 payment made to porn actress Stormy Daniels.
A furious Trump, who in the last month has escalated his attacks on Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, said from the White House that it was a “disgrace” that the FBI “broke into” his lawyer’s office.
The raid was done by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan and was based in part on a referral from Mueller, said Cohen’s lawyer, Stephen Ryan.
“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. “It resulted in the unnecessary seizure of protected attorney client communications between a lawyer and his clients.”
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 Russia and the Trump campaign is also examining whether the president’s actions constitute obstruction of justice.
The law-enforcement action will almost certainly amplify the public scrutiny on the payment to Daniels, who says she had sex with Trump in 2006. The payment was made just days before the 2016 presidential election, and Trump told reporters last week that he did not know about it.
To obtain a warrant, prosecutors and agents must convince a judge they have probable cause of criminal activity and that they believe they’ll find evidence of wrongdoing in a search. A warrant requires multiple levels of approval within the Justice Department, and agency guidelines impose additional hurdles when the target of a search is an attorney.
Besides Cohen’s office, agents also searched a hotel room where he’s been staying while his home is under renovation.