White House fears feds may have obtained recordings involving Michael Cohen

Nellie Chapman
April 15, 2018

Investigators also sought bank records and communications with the Trump campaign, according to a third person familiar with the investigation, who also spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the confidential details.

Stephen Ryan, Cohen's lawyer, believes the Federal Bureau of Investigation raiding his client's apartment was unnecessary and inappropriate; Ryan reiterated that communications between Cohen and his clients are protected by attorney-client privilege.

Because of the sensitive interests involved and the inherent risks of damage to legitimate attorney-client relationships, the Department of Justice has established certain heightened procedures ("Searches of Premises of Subject Attorneys") that must be complied with before seeking a warrant to search an attorney's premises.

Cohen has acknowledged that he paid Daniels $130,000 in exchange for her promise not to talk publicly about an affair she said she had with Trump.

The Trump legal team had previously scheduled the meeting, which was part of a series of ongoing negotiations between the Trump team and the Mueller team toward a potential interview with the president. The two GOP senators said they didn't think Trump would really move to fire Mueller.

Last week, Trump broke his silence over the payment to Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, denying he paid her hush money through his attorney and insisting he did not know why Cohen made the payment.

"This is about getting Donald Trump at all costs even if it means stretching the boundaries of exceptions to attorney-client privilege", said former Trump campaign adviser Michael Caputo.

Geoffrey Berman, the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan who was appointed on an interim basis by the attorney general in January, was recused from the investigation into President Donald Trump's personal attorney before any search warrants were issued on his office and hotel room, according to a source with knowledge of the matter.

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Cohen's lawyer, Stephen Ryan, said in a statement that federal prosecutors in New York City obtained a search warrant after receiving a referral "in part" from special counsel Robert Mueller. "If somebody does something Mr. Trump doesn't like, I do everything in my power to resolve it to Mr. Trump's benefit", Mr. Cohen told ABC News in 2011.

Nervous White House aides expressed new fears about the president's unpredictability in the face of the Cohen raid, which he viewed as an assault on a longtime defender and a sign that Mueller's probe into potential ties between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign was "going too far".

In a footnote, prosecutors wrote that although the investigation was referred to prosecutors by Mueller, it was proceeding independently.

Senate Democratic Minority Leader Charles Schumer took to the floor of the Senate Tuesday to warn Trump against firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees the Mueller investigation.

Under Justice Department regulations, Mueller must consult with Rosenstein when his investigators uncover new evidence that may fall outside his original mandate. The U.S. attorney's office had no comment. One Mueller witness, former Trump aide Sam Nunberg, recently connected the special counsel with the payment, saying in an interview on MSNBC last month that prosecutors had asked him about payments to women.

Daniels argues the agreement is legally invalid because it was signed by only Daniels and Cohen, and was not signed by Trump. Trump denies the affair.

In his first public comments since the raid, Cohen told CNN on Tuesday that he is rethinking how he handled the payment to Daniels because of what it has done to his family.

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