Raids on Trump’s lawyer sought records of payments to women


Mr. Trump has been persecuted for months over allegations that women with whom he is said to have had bad were paid to shut up before the election, charges the White House has repeatedly said he denies.

Mrs. McDougal has stated that he had a 10-month consensus relationship with Mr. Trump 12 years ago. American Media, which is owned by David J. Pecker, agreed to pay McDougal $ 150,000 for the rights to its story in August 2016, but did not publish it in a practice known as capture and kill. Ms. Clifford, who told her story about an affair with Mr. Trump to "60 Minutes" of CBS last month, is aggressively challenging the confidentiality agreement she agreed to in October 2016, receiving $ 130,000 in return.


The president's critics have claimed that the payments to Karen McDougal, left, and Stephanie Clifford, better known as Stormy Daniels, amount to illegal campaign contributions.

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It is unclear exactly why New York investigators are examining the payments. But the president's critics have claimed that they amount to illegal campaign contributions because they helped Trump win the White House by suppressing politically damaging stories.

The F.B.I. he also searched for records related to Mr. Cohen's New York taxi business, apparently a separate line of investigation unrelated to Mr. Trump. Mr. Cohen is a former owner of taxi medallions, at one time operating a fleet of more than 200 taxis in Manhattan.

In addition to infuriating Mr. Trump, the morning searches, according to badociates, also led him to wonder privately whether he should fire Rod J. Rosenstein, the veteran prosecutor appointed by Mr. Trump to serve as deputy attorney general. . Mr. Rosenstein personally signed the F.B.I. decision to attack Mr. Cohen's office, several government officials said.

Department of Justice regulations require prosecutors to consult with senior officials in Washington, but not necessarily with the badistant attorney general, before conducting a search of a lawyer's records, which is one of the most sensitive steps Federal prosecutors can undertake an investigation.

Mr. Trump has long distrusted Mr. Rosenstein, who appointed Mr. Mueller, and now oversees his investigation. In his comments Monday night, the president attacked Mr. Rosenstein for "signing a FISA order", apparently a reference to the role played by Mr. Rosenstein in authorizing the telephone listening of a Trump badociate in the investigation. From Russia.

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Mr. Trump considered dismissing Mr. Rosenstein last summer. Instead, he ordered Mr. Mueller to be fired, and then backed out after the White House lawyer refused to comply with the order, The New York Times reported in January.

While Mr. Trump has taken charge of the events, he has blamed in many directions. In private, people close to the president said he blamed Mr. Cohen for recognizing the payments to Ms. Clifford.

On Monday night, Mr. Trump called the raids authorized by the court an "attack on our country" – unusually harsh language he has not used to describe Russia's attempts to influence US elections by hacking and propaganda, and the raids are likely to complicate Mr. Trump's negotiations with Mr. Mueller over the terms of a possible interview.

Mr. Trump's lawyers have warned that such an interview would be incredibly risky, but Mr. Trump had trusted his ability and was eager to sit down and take one. People close to the president said the raids could change that thinking.

The president's reaction has deeply upset the aides, Department of Justice officials and lawmakers of both parties, who believe the president can use the raids as a pretext to purge the team that leads the Russian investigation.

"Now is the time for executive branch and congressional officials who care about the rule of law to counsel against any effort to undermine the work of the special attorney," said David Laufman, a former senior official. of the Department that supervised the Russian investigation before the appointment of Mr. Mueller.

Mr. Trump's advisers have spent the last 24 hours trying to persuade the president not to make an impulsive decision that could put him in greater legal danger, several people close to Trump said. In one of his tweets on Tuesday morning, he said that " attorney-client privilege is dead. "

In addition to the concern among Mr. Trump's attendees about his state of mind, he He will publish next week a book by James B. Comey, the former FBI director, who is expected to be drastically critical of the president.

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The involvement of Mr. Rosenstein and the principal prosecutors in New York in the raids of Mr. Cohen's office and room makes it more difficult for Mr. Trump to argue that his legal problems are the result of a directed witch hunt. by Mr. Mueller. In addition to Mr. Rosenstein, all high-level law enforcement officials involved in the raids are Republicans, including Mr. Mueller and Christopher A. Wray, Mr. Trump's election to succeed Mr. Comey as director of the FBI.

Photo [19659023] Mr. Trump has long distrusted Rod J. Rosenstein, the Deputy Attorney General, who appointed the special attorney and now oversees his investigation.

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Geoffrey Berman, the United States interim prosecutor for the Southern District of New York, who oversaw the raids, has been removed from the case, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. The precise reason was not clear, but according to the guidelines of the Department of Justice, a lawyer from the United States must report any problem that may require the challenge "as a result of a real or apparent conflict of interest."

Mr. Berman, who worked as a volunteer attorney in Mr. Trump's campaign, was the election of Donald F. McGahn II, the White House attorney, to be the United States attorney in New York, according to a person with direct knowledge of the appointment.

While Mr. Trump is currently focusing on Mr. Rosenstein, many of the president's advisers and allies fear that the president will also try to dismiss Mr. Mueller in an attempt to end the Russian investigation . When journalists asked him Monday night if he intended to do so, Mr. Trump said: "We'll see what happens."

Despite Ms. Sanders' badertions on Tuesday, many legal experts believe that the president can not fire Mr. Mueller himself, and he would have to order Mr. Rosenstein to do it. Mr. Rosenstein told Congress that he would dismiss Mr. Mueller only for a cause, and those close to Mr. Rosenstein have indicated that he would resign if the president ordered him to dismiss Mr. Mueller.

Bipartisan legislation has been introduced to protect Mr. Mueller, with senators urging Mr. Trump to allow the investigation to proceed "unimpeded." Republican leaders have dismissed such legislation as unnecessary.

The possibility that Mr. Trump still finds a way to dismiss Mr. Mueller provoked angry responses from Congress Democrats and some Republicans, who warned that such a move would be disastrous for the White House.

Sen. Charles E. Grbadley, Republican of Iowa and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said on Fox Business Network on Tuesday that "it would be a suicide if the president wanted to talk about firing Mueller."

On Monday, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, Democratic House Speaker, called Mr. Tru The MP attacks on Mueller and his team are a "serious reminder of his total disregard for the rule of law." Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the Senate's top Democrat, urged the president to: "Do not do it, do not go." this way. For the good of our country, we beg you. "

Correction: April 10, 2018

An earlier version of this article misinterpreted the day that Michael D. Cohen posted a message on Twitter citing an author. Sunday, not Tuesday.

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