The payments to the actress of the badgraphic film, Stephanie Clifford, who is known as Stormy Daniels, are just one of the many topics that are investigated, according to an informed person about the search. The F.B.I. He also confiscated emails, tax documents and business records, the person said. Agents raided the space Mr. Cohen uses in the office of Squire Patton Boggs of the Rockefeller Center, as well as a room in which Mr. Cohen is staying at the Loews Regency Hotel on Park Avenue while his apartment is under renovation, said the person. 19659002] To obtain a search warrant, prosecutors must convince a federal judge that agents are likely to discover evidence of criminal activity.
Searches are a significant intrusion of prosecutors in the relations of one of Mr. Trump's closest confidants, and pose a dilemma for Mr. Trump. He has dismissed Mr. Mueller's investigation as a "witch hunt," but these orders were obtained by a group of unrelated prosecutors. Searches required prior consultation with senior members of Mr. Trump's own Department of Justice
Searches open a new front for the Department of Justice in its scrutiny of Mr. Trump and his badociates: Your long-time attorney is being investigated in Manhattan; his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, faces the scrutiny of prosecutors in Brooklyn; your campaign president is accused; your former national security adviser has pleaded guilty to lying; and a couple of former campaign badistants are cooperating with Mr. Mueller. Mr. Mueller, meanwhile, wants to interview Mr. Trump about a possible obstruction of justice.
It is not clear what Mr. Mueller saw that he did refer the matter to other prosecutors. But the searches show that Mr. Mueller does not believe he has the authority to investigate all forms of allegations of everyone in Mr. Trump's orbit. That is significant because Mr. Manafort's lawyers have challenged Mr. Mueller's mandate because it was too broad.
Mr. Cohen is a lifelong lawyer and gunner who, in a decade alongside Mr. Trump, has served as a reliable attack dog against real or perceived threats to Mr. Trump. His activities have been scrutinized as part of Mr. Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections.
Mr. Cohen recently paid $ 130,000 to Mrs. Clifford, who said she had an affair with Mr. Trump. Ms. Clifford said she was paid before the 2016 election to buy her silence. He is challenging a confidentiality agreement that he signed to prevent him from discussing the matter.
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The search is an aggressive move for the Department of Justice, which usually relies on subpoenas from a grand jury to obtain records of people who are represented by lawyers and are cooperating with the authorities. Search warrants are used more frequently in cases where prosecutors do not trust people to keep or deliver records themselves. The Department of Justice rules require that prosecutors first consider less intrusive alternatives before seeking attorney records.
Searches of Mr. Cohen's documents refer to F.B.I before sunrise. raid on the house of Trump's former campaign president, Paul Manafort. Those documents helped back Mr. Manafort's accusation last fall on money laundering charges, taxes and foreign pressure.
Mr. Ryan said Cohen cooperated with authorities and handed out thousands of documents to congressional investigators investigating the meddling in Russian elections.
The seized records include communications between Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen, which would probably require a special team of agents to review because discussions between lawyers and clients are protected from scrutiny in most cases.
Although Mr. Mueller's team did not initiate the search, if prosecutors in Manhattan discover information related to Mr. Mueller's investigation, they may share that information with Mr. Mueller's team.
Originally from Long Island, Mr. Cohen began his career as a personal injury lawyer and taxi fleet manager. He joined the Trump Organization in 2006. He attracted attention in the Russian investigation after the emails showed that a business partner of Mr. Trump, Felix Sater, introduced Mr. Cohen in a lucrative real estate business in Russia.
The agreement was supposed to be a Trump Tower in Moscow and Mr. Sater boasted to Mr. Cohen that the tower would make Mr. Trump elected president. "Our son can become president of the US And we can design it," Mr. Sater wrote. "I will have all of Putin's team intervene in this, I will administer this process." But emails obtained by The New York Times do not show an answer from Mr. Cohen, who told congressional investigators that he considered Mr. Sater's talk to be puffery.
It is unclear how important prosecutors see the payment to Ms. Clifford. Mr. Trump has denied knowing about the payment. And Mr. Cohen has said that he paid Mrs. Clifford with her own money. When asked last week why Mr. Cohen made the payment, Mr. Trump responded: "You will have to ask Michael Cohen, Michael is my lawyer, and you will have to ask Michael Cohen"
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