FBI agents have raided the offices of Michael Cohen, personal attorney to President Trump, yesterday in a dramatic development. The raids were confirmed by Stephen Ryan, an attorney for Mr. Cohen, who said the raids were related, at least in part, to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
“Today, the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York executed a series of search warrants and seized the privileged communications between my client, Michael Cohen, and his clients,” Ryan said. “I have been advised by federal prosecutors that the New York action is, in part, a referral by the office of special counsel, Robert Mueller.”
The searches were conducted in space Mr. Cohen uses in the offices of another law firm located in Rockefeller Center in Midtown Manhattan, as well as in a hotel room where Cohen is staying while his apartment is being renovated. According to authorities, agents seized tax documents, business records and correspondence between Cohen and his clients, including President Trump.
Cohen has become a person of interest in the Mueller investigation in recent months after revelations he made a $130,000 payment to an adult film actress, keeping her from speaking out about an affair she had with President Trump in 2006. Investigators are looking into whether the payment violated Federal Election Commission laws.
The raids are noteworthy considering search warrants were issued granting agents the authority to enter the locations and seize documents. The Department of Justice usually relies on subpoenas to obtain such records from targets of investigations, especially when they are represented by legal counsel and are cooperating with investigators, as Mr. Cohen is.
Warrants are typically used in cases where investigators don’t trust documents to be surrendered upon request or to be preserved if asked to. Adding to the significance is the fact that search warrants can only be obtained by prosecutors who have convinced a federal judge that evidence of criminal activity is likely to be discovered.
The president was angered by the news. Speaking before a meeting with his national security team on a possible retaliation to a chemical weapons attack by Syrian dictator Bahsar Assad against his own people, the president called the raids a “disgraceful situation” and an “attack on our country in a true sense.”