Trump slams 'witch hunt' as his lawyer's office is raided

Attorney Michael Cohen arrives at Trump Tower for meetings with then President-elect Donald Trump in December 2016

Special counsel Robert Mueller's investigators met with members of President Donald Trump's legal team on the same day that the Federal Bureau of Investigation was launching a raid targeting the President's personal attorney, according to sources familiar with the matter.

That's according to a report Tuesday from The New York Times.

The special counsel is also probing a $150 000 payment Ukrainian billionaire steel magnate Victor Pinchuk made during the United States presidential campaign to Trump's foundation for the American real estate developer to give a 20-minute speech via video link, according to The New York Times. AMI has said she was paid to become a fitness columnist.

Adult film star #Stormy Daniels has been in the media a lot lately, with the details of her affair with US President #Donald Trump and all of his kinks and sexual pleasures becoming journalistic gold.

Monday's high-profile raid on Cohen's offices, home and hotel room mark the latest twist in a legal drama that experts say could pose serious risks for Cohen and Trump alike. He called Mueller's investigation "an attack on our country", prompting new speculation that he might seek the removal of the Justice Department's special counsel. "And I thanked them at the conclusion".

Among them: Trump's comments to reporters last week, denying knowledge of the Daniels payment or the source of the hush money.

The unusual step of searching the office was partly instigated by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading an inquiry into allegations that Mr Trump's team colluded with Russian Federation to help him win the election.

"Today the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of NY executed a series of search warrants and seized the privileged communications between my client, Michael Cohen, and his clients", Cohen's attorney Stephen M. Ryan of McDermott Will & Emery, Washington, said in an April 9 statement.

Attorney Stephen Ryan, who represents Cohen, called the action "completely inappropriate and unnecessary".

In fact, attorney-client privilege is not absolute and can't be invoked when the discussion was part of an effort to commit a crime.

An aide said Justice Department guidance that only Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein could fire Mueller was no more than guidance and did not apply to Trump, who has the authority to fire anyone in the executive branch.

Last week, Trump himself denied knowing anything about the payment made by Cohen to Daniels, a payment allegedly created to silence Daniels about her previous relationship with Trump, keeping the affair story out of the press in the run-up to the 2016 presidential vote.

The fraud claims prompted speculation that he may have misled banks over the reason for the large payment, made shortly before the president won the 2016 USA election.

McConnell also tells reporters he doesn't believe Mueller will be removed. The search was authorized by a judge and no evidence suggests it was carried out improperly.

MARIOTTI: Well, for any warrants, prosecutors have to obtain evidence that shows that there was a good reason to believe a crime occurred and that evidence of that crime was at the place that they're searching. Getting a warrant to search an attorney's office is not easy.

In this case, Mueller opted to refer the matter to federal prosecutors in Manhattan. All the while, Mueller and his investigators have spent hours questioning White House officials about whether the president had sought to obstruct justice. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Her cooperation was first reported by NBC News.

Cohen has more recently attracted attention for his acknowledgment that he paid Daniels out of his own pocket shortly before the 2016 presidential election.

Asked why he had not fired Mueller, Trump left the door open.

Cohen, who has been described as Trump's "fixer", says he's not thrilled about what might come next. Last week, Trump told the White House press pool that he wasn't aware of the payment at the time it was made. Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, has said she had sex with Trump in 2006.

Daniels got $US130,000 ($NZ176,000) from Cohen in exchange for signing a non-disclosure agreement concerning her relationship with Trump.

(My colleague Amy Davidson Sorkin wrote about Trump's initial reaction to the raid.) It's pretty clear, though, that such an option is very much on his mind. He sent similar demand letters to two banks, City National and First Republic, asking they preserve documents connected to the transaction. In the email, the representative said funds had been deposited in Cohen's account.



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