TrumpWatch, Day 445: FBI Raids Office of Trump’s Lawyer Cohen

Donald Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen outside the US Capitol, September 2017, (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Trump threatens to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller


Developments on Day 445 of the Trump Administration:

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Records Include Payoff to Stormy Daniels Over Trump Affair

The FBI raids the New York office and hotel room of Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen, seizing business records, e-mails, and documents.

The warrant included material over Cohen’s $130,000 payoff in October 2016 — 11 days before the Presidential election — to Stephanie Clifford, a.k.a. Stormy Daniels, the porn actress who says she had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006.

Cohen has insisted that he paid the money from his personal account. However, his correspondence with Daniels’ lawyer was via a Trump Organization e-mail.

The seized records include communications between Trump and Cohen, which will likely require a special team of agents to review them as conversations between lawyers and clients are usually protected from scrutiny.

Trump: “Witch Hunt”

Prosecutors obtained the search warrant after a referral from Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is conducting the Trump-Russia inquiry. At this point, the search does not appear to be directly related to Mueller’s investigation, but instead arose from information that his team uncovered.

Trump, who has spent months berating the FBI over the Trump-Russia investigation, accused the Justice Department of a witch hunt. He claimed the FBI “broke into” Cohen’s office in a “disgraceful situation” and an “attack on our country in a true sense”.

Trump revived the possibility that he may fire Mueller, risking a political and Constitutional confrontation: “We’ll see what may happen. Many people have said you should fire him.” He said Mueller’s team were “the most biased group of people”.

In a further indication of a move against Mueller, Trump criticized Deputy Attorney Rod Rosenstein, the official with the formal authority to dismiss the Special Counsel.

CNN’s Jim Acosta reported:

Trump also returned to jibes against Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself in early 2017 over his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, and denounced the FBI for failing to investigate Hillary Clinton “where there are crimes”.

“That is really now on a whole new level of unfairness,” Trump said.

Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.

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