What FBI raids on Trump’s lawyer portend

Herb Boyd | 4/19/2018, 12:08 p.m.
What FBI raids on Trump’s lawyer portend
President Donald Trump White House photo

How momentous are the findings and what could be damaging to Trump after the FBI raid on his attorney’s office, home and hotel room last week remain arresting questions, in more ways than one.

These recent developments in the ongoing topsy-turvy political world with Trump at the center came after a referral from special counsel Robert Mueller III. Federal prosecutors obtained a search warrant and seized records related to Stormy Daniels, the pornographic film star and others, according to Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen.

The raid and confiscation of records of payments Cohen made to Daniels were “completely inappropriate and unnecessary,” said Stephen Ryan, Cohen’s lawyer. “Today the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York executed a series of search warrants and seized the privileged communications between my client, Michael Cohen, and his clients.”

Ryan said he had been advised by federal prosecutors “that the New York action is, in part, a referral by the Office of Special Counsel, Robert Mueller.”

It remains to be seen what other documents were seized and how they all may relate to Mueller’s ongoing investigation about the possible role of Russian interference in the last presidential election. As Trump’s lawyer, Cohen is connected to some elements of the investigation. Earlier, he admitted to paying $130,000 to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, to keep her from talking about her alleged affair with Trump.

That agreement has recently been in the news after Daniels broke it with a disclosure about the affair. In a new court filing, Daniels said she would not have signed the hush agreement in 2016 if she had known Trump was not a party to it, nor would she have accepted the money.

The payment records to Daniels are reportedly at the center of the seizure, but the FBI also gathered tax and business records, and emails.

Appropriating documents and records of communication between Trump and Cohen might be in violation of lawyer-client privilege, although in some circumstances it could be waived. No waiver is possible, however, if there is incriminating evidence against the lawyer.

And things took another dramatic turn this week with the disclosure that Sean Hannity is Cohen’s third client. His other client of note is Elliott Broidy, who paid nearly $2 million to a former Playboy model who had an abortion during an affair with Broidy.

The plot thickens, the noose tightens.