Monday morning, the FBI raided the Manhattan office and hotel room of Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen. Seized were business records, emails, and documents pertaining to myriad topics, including the $130,000 hush-money payment to adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, aka Stormy Daniels, and information about former Playboy model Karen McDougal.
But the raid is about more than Trump’s sexual dalliances.
A source familiar with the matter confirmed that although the FBI was looking for information about payments to the women, those payments were “not the main focus of that part of the investigation.”
Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, overseeing special counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and possible collusion, recommended Manhattan prosecutors handle the raid.
Former senior FBI official, Frank Montoya, stated, due to the exhausting scrutiny required to obtain a warrant, it is rare for the bureau to search a lawyer’s office, let alone a residence (or hotel room, in Cohen’s case).
“No question, a search warrant for a lawyer is an extraordinary act. Factor in that, in this instance, it was the president’s own attorney. Unprecedented. Everyone involved in this process, including the judge who signed the warrant, understood the scrutiny that would follow its execution. As such, everyone in the process would have done their damnedest to make the warrant as bulletproof as possible.”
Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), a former prosecutor, stated:
“The raid is seismic.”
Stephen M. Ryan, Michael Cohen’s attorney, said prosecutors seized communications between Cohen and his clients based partly Mueller’s investigation.
So what is the connection between the two seemingly disparate cases that prompted the raid?
Investigators sought evidence of possible bank fraud and campaign finance violations surrounding the home equity credit line Cohen reportedly took out to pay Stormy Daniels the $130,000 weeks before Cohen’s client won the 2016 presidential election. If Cohen lied to obtain that credit from a federally insured financial institution, he committed a felony punishable up to 30 years in prison. Because the payment was an “in-kind” contribution from the Trump campaign, it could constitute a willful campaign contribution limit violation, another felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
Mueller’s referral of the case to the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York indicates the matter, although not directly germane to the Russia investigation, is at least potentially felonious enough to act on.
Cohen has been Trump’s lawyer for decades. He knows where the money is hidden, where the LLCs are. The payment to Stormy Daniels may have been just the thing to put him on the radar, so to speak. i.e., he got caught. In exchange for a deal, like Trump’s former National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, the information he has may prove very valuable to Mueller’s team.
In July, Donald Trump warned special council Robert Mueller not to cross the “red line“, the point at which Mueller would begin delving into Trump’s finances.
Last month, Mueller crossed it when he subpoenaed Trump Organization documents, indicating the ongoing probe that has already taken down several key Trump campaign officials and 13 Russian operatives is inching ever closer to the president.
An adult film actor could conceivably be the lynch pin that takes down a president.
No wonder Trump is losing his mind.
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