FBI raids offices, home of Trump's personal lawyer

Attorney Michael Cohen arrives at Trump Tower for meetings with then President-elect Donald Trump in December 2016

If someone (other than a member of Trump's "Cult 45") knew absolutely nothing of the details of the special counsel's investigation into the Trump campaign, and only watched the president's freakish "press conference" in reaction to the news of the raid on Michael Cohen, I would like to believe that they would already have grave suspicions about Trump's guilt. Berman took the information to a federal judge, who green lighted the raid.

Mr Cohen has been at the centre of allegations made by Ms Daniels that she was paid to keep quiet after having sex with Mr Trump.

Cohen has been Trump's personal lawyer and confidant for years, advising him on real estate and personal matters, as well as supporting him since he became president.

When it was initially reported shortly after the presidential election, the payment raised questions about buying influence. How the money is treated for tax purposes may also trigger other legal concerns. Of course the search may also exonerate both men of any criminal conduct. It is unethical for an attorney to act on behalf of a client without consulting the client.

Mr Cohen just lately admitted paying porn star Daniels £92,000 simply earlier than the United States election in 2016.

Trump has said he did not know about a $130,000 payment made by Cohen to Daniels. I'm afraid that he needs to look a little closer to home. And my guess is that his counsel is telling him that this investigation continues to not focus on him or collusion, and since he can't speak to the actions of others, let the special prosecutor, let the FBI play this out, see what evidence they have, before taking it a step too far.

Cohen's lawyer, Stephen Ryan, told The Times that the search was "completely inappropriate and unnecessary". He huddled in the Oval Office with Ty Cobb, the White House lawyer who oversees its handling of the Mueller probe, as well as with White House counsel Donald McGahn and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, officials said.

Mueller's office would have to discuss with the attorney general whether to keep an investigation under the special counsel's office or to refer it to a different jurisdiction.

This seizure of evidence pursuant to search warrant on an attorney's office is a highly unusual and risky maneuver by any prosecutor.

The Victor Pinchuk Foundation, which sponsored the conference, said in a statement to The Times that the $150,000 donation to Trump's foundation was "a specific request of Mr. Trump Foundation in September of 2015 when there were multiple candidates for the Republican nomination for president and it was by no means assured that Mr. Trump would be the Republican nominee in 2016".

The FBI and Justice Department use lawyers and investigators walled off from the primary investigation to sift through the documents to prepare a "privilege log" for later submission to the court. "You need to show that the attorney client relationship was used in furtherance of a crime".

The crime-fraud exception can not be used to pierce the attorney work-product privilege without the required showing that the work product was actually used in furtherance of the purported crime or fraud.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a friend of Trump, called the Cohen raids "a little heavy-handed". In fact, I can't think of anything Trump would have done differently if we knew for certain that he is facing legal peril.

"We have substantial reason to believe that when Michael Cohen opened the bank accounts at First Republic Bank for the purposes of wiring this money that he was not truthful and honest with the bank as to the goal of those accounts and what they were created to be used for", he said.



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