FBI Raids Cohen’s Offices, Trump Loses It

Trump’s personal attorney/fixer, the loathsome and utterly incompetent Michael Cohen, had his offices raided by the FBI on Monday and the Washington Post reports that he is now under investigation for bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations in regard to the Stormy Daniels hush money scandal.

FBI agents on Monday raided Cohen’s Manhattan office, home and hotel room as part of the investigation, seizing records about Cohen’s clients and personal finances. Among the records taken were those related to a 2016 payment Cohen made to adult-film star Stormy Daniels, who claims to have had a sexual encounter with Trump, according to another person familiar with the investigation.

Investigators took Cohen’s computer, phone and personal financial records, including tax returns, as part of the search of his office at Rockefeller Center, the second person said.

In a dramatic and broad seizure, federal prosecutors collected communications between Cohen and his clients — including those between the lawyer and Trump, according to both people.

The raids — part of an investigation referred by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to federal prosecutors in New York — point to escalating legal jeopardy for a longtime Trump confidant who is deeply intertwined in the president’s business and personal matters.

There are several interesting things about this. First, the reports are that this raid was undertaken by the FBI but not by Mueller’s investigative team. It was initiated by the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, reportedly based on information that was forwarded to them by Mueller but is not part of his investigation into the Russia situation. That means it had to be approved not only by Trump’s handpicked FBI Director, Christopher Ray, but also by his hand-picked US Attorney for the SDNY and by his hand-picked head of the criminal division of the DOJ.

Despite that fact, Trump, of course, lost his mind over it, attacking the FBI for doing its job and declaring it “an attack on our country.” Because his personal mafia lawyer is clearly the entire country, right? And of course, it’s all a “witch hunt.” But this kind of warrant is not just a typical warrant. The standard is higher than usual. There are multiple layers of people who have to look at the evidence they have and agree that there is probable cause for a warrant, all of them appointed by Trump himself other than the magistrate judge. He’s going to try to claim this is all a partisan thing, but that’s simply ridiculous.

The second interesting thing is the seizure of communications between Cohen and Trump and other clients. The standard that must be met to get a warrant for that kind of seizure is very high because attorney/client privilege is given very broad protections. The primary exception that allows that privilege to be abrogated is the crime-fraud exception. The Supreme Court has ruled that communications undertaken “in the commission of a fraud” are not protected. And in order to get a judge to sign off on a warrant allowing such communications to be seized requires a showing of probable cause that such a crime of fraud has been committed.

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