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Here Are 8 Things You Need To Know About The FBI’s Raid on Michael Cohen’s Offices

On Monday afternoon, the FBI raided the home, office, and hotel room of President Trump’s longtime personal attorney, Michael Cohen. Cohen is also the national deputy finance chair of the Republican National Committee. According to The Washington Post, Cohen is now “under federal investigation for possible bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations, according to three people with knowledge of the case.” Documents seized from Cohen include records regarding Cohen’s self-stated $130,000 payment to Trump one-night-stand Stormy Daniels. According to one source, “Investigators took Cohen’s computer, phone and personal financial records, including tax returns, as part of the search of his office at Rockefeller Center, that person said.” Communications between Cohen and Trump were also seized.

Trump immediately termed the situation a “witch hunt” and an “attack on our country in a true sense; it’s an attack on what we all stand for.” He also took to Twitter to state that attorney-client privilege was “dead.”

So, what’s actually going on? Here are eight things you need to know.

1. Trump And Cohen May Have Violated The Law. So, what’s this case even about? Trump allegedly slept with Stormy Daniels back in 2006. Then Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 to keep quiet, according to Cohen himself. According to Cohen, Trump knew nothing about the payment. The settlement agreement contains pseudonyms for Trump and Daniels, and was funneled through an LLC. This could make Cohen’s payment to Daniels an in-kind contribution to the Trump campaign in violation of campaign finance law. Furthermore, if Trump knew about it, that could constitute criminal conspiracy to violate campaign finance law. Former Democratic presidential candidate and senator, John Edwards, was tried on precisely those grounds; a jury split on five counts and acquitted on a sixth before the DOJ decided to drop the case. Ironically, Trump could have avoided all of this by merely paying Daniels directly.

2. Attorney-Client Privilege Doesn’t Apply To Violating The Law With Your Attorney. This is called the “crime-fraud exception” to attorney-client privilege: if you claim privilege in an attempt to cover up a crime, the privilege no longer applies. The legal elements to be fulfilled here include that the client intended to commit a crime, and that the client purposefully communicated with the lawyer to prevent anyone from knowing about the crime.

3. The Raid On Cohen’s Office Was Cleared By A Judge And The Department Of Justice. As Ken White points out, the law is quite strict regarding seizing documents that could be covered by attorney-client privilege. Prosecutors must show that there is no alternative to such a document seizure, and White writes, “The USAM requires such a search warrant to be approved by the U.S. Attorney — the head of the office, a Presidential appointee — and requires ‘consultation’ with the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. This is not a couple of rogue AUSAs sneaking in a warrant.” In this case, “the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York (widely regarded within itself as being the most important and prestigious U.S. Attorney’s Office in the country) secured the search warrants for the FBI. Assuming this report is correct, that means that a very mainstream U.S. Attorney’s Office — not just Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office — thought that there was enough for a search warrant here.” And a magistrate judge greenlit the warrant as well. Cohen’s office is arguing that he’s cooperated with the authorities all the way, so this warrant is unjustified.

4. There Will Be A Serious Process For Screening The Documents. Again, here’s White: “That process might involve a judge reviewing the materials to separate out what is privileged (or what might fall within an exception to the privilege), or else set up a “dirty team” that does the review but is insulated from the “clean team” running the investigation. Another option is a ‘special master,’ an experienced and qualified third-party attorney to do the review.” Nonetheless, if the FBI now has the full gamut of Cohen documents, they’ll have a lot of interesting reading on their hands.

5. Mueller Isn’t The Only Lawyer On This Case Anymore. Trump is angry about the Mueller investigation, but the Southern District of New York now has charge of the Cohen case, which means that there are two separate investigations apparently taking place. That means that Trump would have to fire the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York if he wanted to hinder the investigation, which would raise the same impeachment-related questions as firing Mueller would — and furthermore, if he doesn’t fire the new U.S. Attorney in SDNY, that slot is filled by the district court. So, who is the U.S. Attorney for SDNY, anyway? It’s Geoffrey Berman, a Trump appointee and Trump donor. [UPDATE: Berman reportedly recused himself from this case, meaning that a deputy approved the raid. This recusal certainly will displease Trump.]

6. What About Attorney General Jeff Sessions? Trump is fighting mad at Sessions for not preventing the investigation from going this far — he thinks if Sessions hadn’t recused himself on Russia, there would be no investigation. That could be right, but Sessions had little choice considering that he had been called before the Senate about his own role in the campaign regarding Russia. Furthermore, Robert Mueller never would have been appointed if Trump hadn’t used deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein to fire former FBI director James Comey, then stated openly that he fired Comey over Comey’s decisionmaking in the Russia investigation — which forced Rosenstein to appoint a special investigator.

7. The FBI Never Treated Hillary Clinton This Way. This is perfectly obvious. Hillary wasn’t merely allowed to delete 33,000 documents from her computer server three weeks after revelations that she had a private computer server, she was protected by the DOJ and the FBI, which allowed her personal attorney, Cheryl Mills — who was also under investigation — to invoke attorney-client privilege to stop the FBI from investigating Hillary’s email scheme. As Andrew McCarthy of National Review wrote:

The reason was that the Justice Department was allowing Cheryl Mills – a witness, if not a subject, of the investigation – to invoke attorney-client privilege on behalf of Mrs. Clinton in order to thwart the FBI’s attempt to inquire into the procedure used to produce Clinton’s emails to the State Department. Mills was a participant in that procedure – and it is the procedure in which, we now know, well over 30,000 emails were attempted to be destroyed, including several thousand that contained government-related business. … There is no way Mills should have been permitted to participate as a lawyer in the process of producing Clinton’s emails to the State Department nearly two years after they’d both left. I thought it was astonishing that the Justice Department indulged her attorney-client privilege claim, which frustrated the FBI’s ability to question her on a key aspect of the investigation. But it is simply unbelievable to find her turning up at Mrs. Clinton’s interview – participating in the capacity of a lawyer under circumstances where Clinton was being investigated over matters in which Mills participated as a non-lawyer government official.

8. The FBI Makes Mistakes. Everybody seems to think that because the FBI raided Cohen’s office, Cohen is guilty. But the FBI has made mistakes on raids like this before. As Jesse Eisenger of ProPublica writes:

So, where do we stand? It’s unclear. We don’t have the application for the warrant, so we don’t know what the FBI is looking for. But nothing here is good news for Cohen, who could end up in jail — or Trump, who could end up on the wrong end of a conspiracy charge on campaign finance violations.

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27 Comments

27 Comments

  1. Darrell Moncrief

    April 10, 2018 at 11:23 pm

    This is all a bunch of bullshit and the whole world knows it. HRC did every illegal act known to man to fraud the elections as well as half of all the Democrats. Trump is the best President this country has had in years. He was elected by the silent majority, the legal U.S. citizens of the United States fair and square. Sessions should resign immediately. Trump should immediately clean house of all these dishonest never Trump conspirators. We the People have spoken.

    • James Higginbotham

      April 11, 2018 at 5:44 am

      RIGHT YOU ARE Darrell.
      if i were Trump id call up the Army based right outsides dc and RAID MUELLERS, FBI, AND DOJ OFFICES, AND ARREST ALL WHO HAD A HAND IN THIS TREASON, AND FIRE SESSION.
      ENOUGH OF THOSE JACK BOOTED THUGS AND THEIR BS.

      • walter

        April 12, 2018 at 9:08 am

        I agree its been double standards since day one

    • b johnson

      April 11, 2018 at 6:31 am

      I am not one of your we the people. Trump is the most dishonest in history to become president. Just wait all will be revealed

  2. Patrick

    April 10, 2018 at 11:52 pm

    So cute how you try to bring Hillary in again. Up through point 6, you were fairly accurate. Then you lost credibility.

    How about this: if Trump hadn’t collided with the Russians or possibly commuted election fraud, this investigation wouldn’t be necessary. You, like all conservative propaganda tags cast blame elsewhere and therefore destroy your claim to “self-accountability “.

    • Steven

      April 11, 2018 at 12:08 am

      Patrick: They may have agreed with you up through point 6, but you are BOTH wrong, both legally and factually.

    • maquignon

      April 11, 2018 at 12:38 am

      If ANYBODY COLLUDED with the Russians it is Hatemonger Hillary Clinton. Not a SMIDGEN of evidence of any collusion between Trump and Russians TONS OF EVIDENCE OF COLLUSION BETWEEN HATEMONGER HILLARY CLINTON AND RUSSIA!!!!

    • Caroline

      April 11, 2018 at 2:36 am

      You are so delusional. There is absolutely so evidence of collusion on Tru,ps part and even it was it is not a crime, There is a ton of evidence of the crimes Hillary committed. Trump is doing more for this country than anyone has in years and everybody is fighting him as hard as Thorpe you can. Doesn’t anyone in this country want to see our President do good or is everybody but republicans determined to have One World Ordertake over and take our rights away. I know one thing all the idiots out there better wake up before it’s too late. If the democrats.get back un the White House and the brainwashed idiots get their way I will guarantee you they won’t want what they get. Unfortunately it will be too late. Dowake the hell up do some research and help our President stop the destruction of our country.

    • paulette

      April 11, 2018 at 2:46 am

      @PATRICK,WOW YOUR ABOUT A DUMB ARSE,THERE IS NO COLLUSION,ASSHAT

    • Luana

      April 11, 2018 at 3:21 am

      I do not see how on earth you could defend Hillary Clinton. She is one of the most vile persons I have ever reasearched. Is your head up your butt?

    • Kimberly

      April 11, 2018 at 5:44 am

      It’s a bunch of lawyers trying to find anything on Trump and that’s all this is. A witch hunt for sure.

    • brian MCMILLAN

      April 11, 2018 at 6:20 am

      And you’re a fairy tale teller.

  3. Fred Osborne

    April 11, 2018 at 12:12 am

    Zero evidence of collusion and hacks like you continue to hold form to nothing.

    • b johnson

      April 11, 2018 at 6:35 am

      You folks should stop aping Trump on no collision, the investigation is not over yet and I will assure you there was plenty of collision going on.

  4. Barbara Ritchie

    April 11, 2018 at 12:38 am

    CONSERVATIVES have “sold their soul” to a cheap CROOK ( probably a Russian Mob ££ Launderer, to boot!, with a “mob shyster” fixer. I CANNOT BELIEVE what is happening to Conservative USA–it LOST ITS MIND in 2016!

    • Andrew

      April 11, 2018 at 1:18 am

      Your a big jerk.you don’t know what you’re talking about. Must be a snowflake. Someone without common sense.

    • paulette

      April 11, 2018 at 2:47 am

      @BARBARA,THEY HAVE TREATMENT FOR YOUR BRAIN PROBLEM,GO GET IT CHECKED OUT BECAUSE YOU HAVE THE WORST CASE OF CNN BRAIN DUMMAGE IV EVER SEEN

      • b johnson

        April 11, 2018 at 6:39 am

        you don’t know me or who I am and you should be careful how you unload your big ole Trump mouth, May if you could turn off Fox news you could get a real life. Maybe there is no life after Trump

    • Kimberly

      April 11, 2018 at 5:46 am

      You mean the fictitious connection to Russia no one seems to be able to find? And you say we lost our minds? The left lost their a long time ago and live in a fantasy world. Might as well all go live on earth 2 with Hillary where she says she president.

    • brian MCMILLAN

      April 11, 2018 at 6:22 am

      Silly comment, bot.

  5. Gerald Cline

    April 11, 2018 at 1:33 am

    Mueller and his merry little team of witch-hunters are getting desperate. More than a year and still not one shred of proof that Donald Trump colluded with the Russians. I am beginning to suspect Mueller is trying to goad Trump into firing him so the Trump haters can try and impeach him for obstruction.

  6. Gale

    April 11, 2018 at 3:12 am

    These liberal idiots aren’t going to stop until Trump is impeached, regardless of the truth.

    • Vic G.

      April 11, 2018 at 6:51 am

      You are exactly right Gale, their bottom line is to get rid of Trump any way possible, the issues they keep harping on are just froth and bubble, lies and propaganda, all because they lost, not because there is a need for America to remove POTUS, in fact, the opposite is the Truth.
      He is the best thing for America in decades…. Again the whole Dem/Lib reason, in short, is, “Impeach Trump because we lost”. I have not heard any valid argument that stacks up as a plus for previous decades of a retracting economy when you consider facts for Trump’s very positive achievements just in a year.

  7. Tana Bouquet

    April 11, 2018 at 5:46 am

    their brains no longer function properly, they need to be rounded up and locked away. Now, would be a good time.

  8. Kay

    April 11, 2018 at 6:03 am

    All full funny they never got a warrant to search Hillary’s lawyer or the rest of the devils that worked for her and with her, along with Obama, I Hope and pray this boomerang comes back to bite them in the rear end…Trump is far from dumb he is 10 steps ahead of these morons watch and see, what blows me away this man did not need this Job but he did it and WITHOUT PAY I MIGHT ADD, and for what to make America great again, He sure is but it will go to Hell when he leave’s office. I would not blame him if he did not run in 2020 why would he for all the corrupt people in the FBI, DOJ, and in Washington Dc unreal, I hope they open this Muller wide open that corrupt man who put 4 men in jail knowing they were innocent, so two passes away in jail and the other two get paid huge money for being locked up for no good reason, yeah that was Muller who did that the rat!!

  9. Charlene

    April 11, 2018 at 6:33 am

    Some say that’s exactly the goal. To goad President Trump into attempting to fire Mueller or Rosenstein. I don’t understand how that man is in the position he’s in, when he’s smack dab in the middle of the FISA warrant scandal.
    There’s no point in fighting about this, only 1 of 2 things can be true: either Cohen did something wrong or Mueller did. Unfortunately, we’re not in the need to know category, so we’ll find out when they’re good and ready to let us in on it. *sigh*

  10. jan

    April 11, 2018 at 7:26 am

    What a monumental waste of time and money. The left has to keep this going to protect Obama and Hillary from being investigated. Their best and only defense is a strong offense.
    It seems to me that this Stormy thing all happened before the election and before Trump was President so why are they even looking at that or giving her any air time. She is a typical gold digger with a money hungry attorney.

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