Details are very sparse on this one so far, but whoa:
The F.B.I. on Monday raided the office of President Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, seizing records related to several topics including payments to a pornographic-film actress.
That’s via the New York Times, which reports that the warrant for the raid was obtained by federal prosecutors in New York’s Southern District, not by special counsel Robert Mueller . The Times does, however, quote an attorney representing Cohen as saying that he had been “advised by federal prosecutors that the New York action is, in part, a referral by the Office of Special Counsel, Robert Mueller.” Bloomberg reports that the raid came about because Mueller brought information he’d uncovered to deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, who determined that further investigation should be handled by the Southern District. (Rosenstein is the Department of Justice official responsible for determining what matters fall under Mueller’s legal mandate.)
CNN says the office that was searched was in the 30 Rock building in Midtown Manhattan. Vanity Fair, meanwhile, reports that a hotel room where Cohen has been staying at the Loews Regency on New York City’s Upper East Side was raided, while CBS says his “residence” was searched. It’s not clear whether his hotel room and his “residence” are different locations.
Cohen’s attorney says the raids were “inappropriate and unnecessary” and that Cohen has cooperated with all previous requests for evidence and testimony made to him by government entities. He also says that the materials seized include communications between Cohen and his clients—typically privileged material whose seizure by federal authorities can only be undertaken under special circumstances.
A Times source says, vaguely, that the Southern District’s investigation concerns “many topics.” Among the stories with potential (potential!) criminal implications that Cohen is involved in:
• Non-disclosure payments to alleged Trump paramours Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, which could conceivably have involved the violation of campaign finance law.
• Daniels’ accusation that an individual she believed to have been connected to Trump threatened her in 2011.
• The (as-yet-uncorroborated) assertion in the infamous “Steele dossier” that Cohen met with Russian operatives in Prague in 2016.
• A 2015 attempt to launch a Trump Tower Moscow project.
• A 2017 attempt to broker a Ukraine-related agreement with Russia.
• Potential aughts-era money laundering involving Trump properties. (Cohen has represented the Trump Organization as well as Trump personally.)
• Trump real-estate deals in Azerbaijan and Georgia.
To be clear, Cohen might not even be federal authorities’ ultimate target in investigations of these or any other situations; they might believe, rather, that he has (or had) evidence related to potential prosecutions of other individuals. Or maybe he himself is the target. We don’t know!
This post has been updated with new information.