UPDATE 2 — 4/13, 3:21 p.m. EDT: Multiple media outlets reported seeing court documents Friday which state Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, is under investigation by the Justice Department for unspecified federal crimes.
UPDATE — 4/12, 5:54 p.m. EDT: According to NBC News sources close to the president’s legal team, the prospects of a special counsel interview with Donald Trump have dimmed since the seizure of Michael Cohen’s communications and business-related documents.
The media outlet reported Trump was set to sit-down with federal investigators as late as Monday, but that cooperation is now unlikely.
Such a question-and-answer session would have focused on the obstruction of justice portion of the Russia probe, which is now set to conclude at an earlier date than if a presidential interview had taken place.
FBI agents raided the New York office and hotel room of Michael Cohen on Monday and seized documents related to communications between Cohen and President Trump.
Acting on a referral from Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating alleged Russian meddling into the 2016 presidential election, federal agents took business, email, phone and financial records.
Among the records reportedly taken involve a $130,000 payment to pornographic actress, Stephanie Clifford a.k.a. Stormy Daniels, alleged to have engaged in an extramarital affair with Trump in 2005.
According to sources with knowledge of the matter, Cohen is believed to be under investigation for possible bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations.
Declaring the raid “completely inappropriate and unnecessary,” Cohen attorney, Stephen Ryan released a statement confirming the search and seizure operation carried out by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
According to reports, agents were seeking records related to the payment made to Ms. Daniels to sign a non-disclosure agreement shortly before the November 2016 election and the now infamous “Hollywood Access” tape, in which Trump is heard uttering vulgarities about females acquaintances.
Drawn into the center of Mueller’s probe in May 2017, Cohen was revealed to have had contact with Russian officials, and later when his name emerged in connection with the notorious “Trump Dossier.”
Cohen testified in front of two Congressional committees regarding the matter in October 2017.
Reacting to the news on Monday evening, President Trump declared the raid to be “disgraceful.”
“It’s a disgraceful situation. It’s a total witch hunt. I’ve been saying it for a long time,” Trump told reporters at the White House Monday.
A development which caused some alarm among legal experts, the raid comes at a moment in which President Trump is weighing a meeting with Mueller’s team probing Trump’s alleged connections to Russia and potential obstruction related to the case.
Similarly, the seizure of documents also indicates Mueller’s office may have sound evidence of the payment Cohen made to Daniels.
Moreover, the Monday raid also signals Mr. Cohen may be facing two investigations, one of which is related to Mueller’s probe. Cohen could now be faced with violations to campaign finance laws.
In an unrelated development, a former doorman at a Trump residential property in New York has claimed Mr. Trump fathered an out-of-wedlock child with a former employee at the Trump World Tower according to multiple reports.
According to Dino Sajudin, the National Inquirer granted him an interview to detail his story. Following a series of interviews, the tabloid’s parent company, American Media Inc., headed by notorious Trump ally David Pecker, reportedly paid him $30,000 in 2015 to remain quiet.
Both the woman Sajudin claims mothered Trump’s alleged love child and Sajudin’s ex-wife have dismissed the claim as ludicrous; Sajudin’s ex-wife also added Sajudin is a pathological liar.
[New York Times] [Washington Post] [New Yorker] [New York Daily News] [Photo courtesy Getty Images via BBC]