- Investigators who raided the office of President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, were reportedly searching for records related to the 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape that briefly crippled the Trump campaign in 2016, The New York Times reports.
- The news indicates that investigators are focused on finding out more about the nature of Cohen’s role during the 2016 campaign.
- It also adds another layer to Trump’s unprecedented fury over the raid, which could give the FBI a window into some of Trump’s most closely protected secrets regarding his personal conduct and financial dealings.
When FBI agents raided the office of President Donald Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, they were looking for records related to a 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape featuring Trump, The New York Times reported Wednesday.
Investigators also searched for evidence of whether Cohen tried to suppress damaging information about Trump during the 2016 US election, the report said.
The “Access Hollywood” tape came to light in October 2016 and threw Trump’s campaign into a tailspin. On the tape, Trump is heard bragging about groping women and kissing them without their consent.
In addition to seeking documents connected to the tape, FBI agents also searched for materials related to two payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels and the Playboy model Karen McDougal, according to The Times. Both women claim to have had affairs with Trump.
Cohen admitted to paying Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, $US130,000. Meanwhile, McDougal received $US150,000 from the parent company of The National Enquirer, whose chief executive is a close friend of Trump’s.
FBI agents eventually seized Cohen’s electronic devices, personal financial records, and attorney-client communications between him and Trump.
The Cohen raid was overseen by the US Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York, which was acting on a referral from the special counsel Robert Mueller after he likely uncovered evidence of potential wrongdoing related to Cohen that fell outside his purview, The Times reported earlier this week.
What role did Cohen play to protect Trump?
Cohen has been referred to at different times as Trump’s fixer, “pit bull,” and consigliere.
In addition to facing legal scrutiny for possible bank fraud and campaign finance violations, Cohen is a subject of interest in at least four investigative threads related to Trump, including some within the Russia probe.
As the president’s right-hand man, Cohen also has intimate knowledge of some of Trump’s most closely guarded secrets related to his personal conduct and financial dealings.
The revelation that investigators are interested in finding out more about the “Access Hollywood” tape indicates they are focused on what role, if any, Cohen played to protect his client during Trump’s presidential campaign.
Trump has long expressed frustration toward the Russia investigation and top law enforcement officials and reportedly believes they are not doing enough to shield him from Mueller. Indeed, The Washington Post reported earlier this year that Trump once asked why he could have “my guys” at the “Trump Justice Department” do his bidding.
But news of the Cohen raid threw him over the edge. His fury was compounded when it surfaced on Tuesday that deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller special counsel last year, personally greenlit the FBI’s decision to raid Cohen’s property.
“No Collusion or Obstruction (other than I fight back), so now they do the Unthinkable, and RAID a lawyers office for information! BAD!” Trump tweeted Wednesday morning.
The president then slammed Mueller for being the “most conflicted of all.” The only person more conflicted than Mueller, he said, was Rosenstein.
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