Published: Thu, April 12, 2018
Economy | By Shawn Conner

How Significant Is It That The FBI Searched Michael Cohen's Office?

How Significant Is It That The FBI Searched Michael Cohen's Office?

Another reason raids on attorney's offices are rare is that they can easily come back to haunt the prosecution.

The White House's confidence that Trump has every right to fire Mueller triggered alarm among Democrats, who would try to shame Republicans into acting to rein in the President if the special counsel gets the ax.

In other words, just another Monday in today's wild Washington ride.

Andrew Hall, who represented former Nixon adviser John Ehrlichman during the Watergate scandal, offered a succinct summary of the distinction: "If a client goes to a lawyer and confesses, "I committed a crime, I stole money, I shot somebody, I killed somebody"-whatever the crime is, it doesn't matter". 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".

To obtain a search warrant, prosecutors in the United States must demonstrate to a judge that they have probable cause to believe the attorney's premises contain evidence of crime; specify the area to be searched and the items to be seized; and the word searches to be used in probing computer content.

"That's unusual and interesting", writes former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti in a thread on Twitter outlining the underlying legal aspects of the F.B.I. raid.

"No question, a search warrant for a lawyer is an extraordinary act", he told Reuters. "It resulted in the unnecessary seizure of protected attorney client communications between a lawyer and his clients". All kinds of safeguards exist to keep them secret.

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Anticipation that something grave is about to happen was meanwhile fueled by White House press secretary Sarah Sanders insisting that Trump "certainly" believes it is in his power to fire the special counsel.

The raid prompted a new blast Tuesday from the president, who tweeted that "Attorney-client privilege is dead!"

This means lots of personnel would be involved. Fifty-nine percent of voters said whether or not Trump knew about the payment is not an important issue.

The warrant also covered e-mails and other documents that could reveal Mr Cohen's private communications with Mr Trump during a tense period in the presidential campaign. They seized records on topics including a $130,000 payment Cohen made to porn actress Stormy Daniels. White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders and the US attorney's office also had no comment.

Asked if he was anxious, Cohen told CNN: "I would be lying to you if I told that I am not".

Still, he told CNN, he remains loyal to the president. It is possible he knows nothing about the alleged payments to women, as he has publicly claimed.

Under Justice Department regulations, Mueller must consult with Rosenstein when his investigators uncover new evidence that may fall outside his original mandate.

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While he did say he was anxious, he added that what made him upset the most was how this was impacting his family.

Trump, a former Democrat and independent, mingled with celebrities and they with him virtually his entire adult life as a prominent New York City real estate developer and later a reality TV star prior to running for president on the GOP ticket.

An aide said Justice Department guidance that only Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein could fire Mueller was no more than guidance and did not apply to Trump, who has the authority to fire anyone in the executive branch.

"Mueller is trying to find principled distinctions about what is in his lane, and what is not", says Andrew Wright of Savannah Law School.

If Trump tries to scupper the probe, it could set in motion a series of events that eventually threaten his presidency.

Reacting sharply to the raid, Trump blasted the Federal Bureau of Investigation, describing the search as a "disgrace" and "an attack on our country".

Perhaps it was his long relationship with Cohen that sparked this reaction.

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Cohen has denied any wrongdoing.

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