President Donald Trump’s longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen is in big trouble. Federal agents executed no-knock search warrants on Cohen’s office, home, and a hotel room on Monday. The raids came as a surprise to everyone, including President Trump, who called the searches “disgraceful” and a “witch hunt”.
Cohen is under investigated for possible bank fraud and campaign finance violations related to a $130,000 payment he made to porn star Stormy Daniels in the days leading up to the election in 2016.
Daniels claimed she had an intimate encounter with Trump 12 years ago, and she accepted the hush money to keep the encounter a secret.
Although the warrants are not related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia collusion investigation, feds seized crucial attorney-client communications, along with income tax records and other documents.
A special team — outside of the investigators — will be formed to examine the communications between Cohen and Trump to preserve attorney-client privilege. Unless the team finds criminal wrongdoing, the communications will not be shared with prosecutors or Mueller.
Trump lashed out at the federal prosecutor of the Southern District of New York and Mueller on Twitter.com on Tuesday. He tweeted: “Attorney–client privilege is dead!” and he referred to the searches as “A TOTAL WITCH HUNT!!!”.
Legal analysts were shocked by the search of an attorney’s office. Some agreed with Trump that the feds are conducting a witch hunt to unseat a duly elected president of the United States.
“We are in pretty treacherous territory here. It’s unprecedented to my knowledge to have the President’s personal attorney raided like this,” said CNN senior political analyst David Gergen on Monday. “They must have been able to present evidence that was hugely compelling to take a step like this.”
According to the Washington Post, a search warrant requires prosecutors to go before a federal judge and demonstrate probable cause that a crime has been committed and evidence of that crime could potentially be destroyed if they don’t act quickly.
“Searches of an attorney’s office are extremely rare and are not favored, due to their potential to impinge on the attorney-client relationship.”
Trump and his supporters wonder why the FBI did not serve warrants on Hillary Clinton who destroyed evidence during the federal investigation into her illegal home server.
“This is a sad day in America,” wrote one Twitter user on Monday. Another user noted that if this can happen to the president’s personal lawyer, no one in America is safe from a prosecutorial overreach.
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