Yesterday’s FBI raid on Michael Cohen’s office sought records regarding payments to two women who were silenced during the presidential campaign. Agents were looking for records regarding the National Enquirer’s role in silencing Karen McDougal and Cohen’s role in paying Stephanie Clifford, known as Stormy Daniels, $130,000 as part of an agreement to prevent her speaking about her relationship with Donald Trump.
The raid was approved by Rod Rosenstein, Deputy Attorney General and has sparked outrage from the President. It bears noting that Rosenstein is a Republican who was picked by Trump personally to serve as Deputy AG and that Mueller is a Republican who is respected on both sides of the aisle. In fact, all the officials involved in the decision making regarding this raid are Republicans: F.B.I. Director Wray is a Republican. Republican Geoffrey Berman, the interim United States attorney in New York where the raid took place, has recused himself and had no involvement in the decision to raid Cohen’s office.
For those worried that this is a travesty that is setting the time honored tradition of attorney-client privilege ablaze, it is important to point out that attorney-client privilege does not shield criminal activity. In other words, privilege does not exist if your lawyer helped you bury the body. The bar for setting aside privilege is a high one and something not taken lightly. It is safe to assume that the evidence used in obtaining the search warrant to search the office of the President’s lawyer was weighty and convincing.
From the NYT:
Searching a lawyer’s files is among the most sensitive moves federal prosecutors can make as they pursue a criminal investigation. Mr. Rosenstein’s personal involvement in the decision signals that the evidence seen by law enforcement officials was significant enough to persuade the Justice Department’s second-in-command that such an aggressive move was necessary.
Cohen is reportedly being investigated for bank fraud, wire fraud, and campaign finance violations. Since communications between Cohen and President Trump were also seized, the Presidential Twitter Tantrum makes sense. Not only is Mueller investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign, now the hush money payments are part of the picture. Rightfully so: they fall squarely into the investigation as campaign finance violations.
No one actually believes Trump didn’t have an affair with Stormy. No one believes Cohen paid her off out of the goodness of his heart. No one believes Trump didn’t know about the payment or didn’t order it be made. It isn’t about the sex – it is always the cover up that brings the house tumbling down. Always.
The question is: will Trump set in motion a Saturday Night Massacre to attempt to halt the investigation? Only time will tell.
You can read the entire NYT article here:
Federal prosecutors in New York asked the Trump Organization, President Donald Trump’s flagship company, for records relating to a $130,000 payment to a former adult-film actress as part of an investigation into Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, according to a person familiar with the matter.