President Trump’s longstanding personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, has had his hotel room and office raided by the FBI on Monday. The FBI seized emails, documents and business records that were related to several different topics. Payments to a pornographic film actress were also seized in the raid.
Cohen is being investigated for bank fraud by Federal prosecutors in Manhattan. An individual that was briefed on the search stated that the documents seized date back years. The search warrant against Cohen was obtained through a referral from the special counsel.
Following the raid of his lawyer, Mr Trump responded angrily to the raid stating that it is a disgraceful situation. Before his meeting with military leaders, Trump spoke to reporters saying that he has to deal with these types of witch hunts constantly.
A payment to Stephanie Clifford, the pornographic actress known as Stormy Daniels, is a main topic of investigation. Previously, Ms Clifford had stated that she had slept with the now president of the US and was paid to keep quiet.
Mr Cohen had reportedly paid Ms Clifford $130,000 for her silence regarding her affair with Mr Trump. The payment was made before the 2016 election but she is currently challenging a NDA (nondisclosure agreement) that she signed regarding the matter. The payments could open more light onto the situation and a possible cover up from the Trump office.
Mr Trump has denied that he has had any prior knowledge about the payment to Ms Clifford. The payment was made out of Mr Cohen’s own pocket and when probed about the nature of the payment, Mr Trump responded saying that he doesn’t know and that they should ask him instead.
According to the person briefed from the raid, they also stated that agents had raided the space that Mr Cohen uses in his law firm office as well as the room he was staying at a hotel while his apartment is undergoing renovations.
Mr Cohen’s lawyer, Stephen Ryan, stated that the US attorney’s office had executed search warrants and seized documents of communication between Mr Cohen and his clients. He also confirmed that the action taken place was in fact a referral by the office of special counsel.
Mr Ryan also had said that Mr Cohen has cooperated fully with the authorities, handing over thousands of documents. Congressional investigators have received these documents and are looking into the possible election meddling by Russia during Mr Trump’s campaign.
The documents that were seized include communication between Mr Cohen and Mr Trump. These types of documents require special teams of investigators due to the nature of these conversations being protected by scrutiny.