Trump lawyer fights Federal Bureau of Investigation over seized files

ImageMichael D. Cohen President Trump’s personal lawyer outside the Capitol

ImageMichael D. Cohen President Trump’s personal lawyer outside the Capitol

As Trump cancelled plans to attend a summit of leaders in Peru, his friends rallied to his defence following the raids by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents on the Manhattan office and home of Cohen, his longtime personal attorney and confidant.

The details in court papers came as lawyers for Cohen and Trump sought to block the Department of Justice from examining records and electronic devices, including two cellphones, seized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Monday from Cohen's residences, office and safety deposit box. Although Cohen's name has been linked to the special counsel's investigation - the Washington Post reported in early March that Mueller had "requested documents and interviewed witnesses about incidents involving Michael Cohen" - Monday's raid was the result of information Mueller gave to prosecutors in NY that was not central to that probe. The implications, for Cohen and for Trump, are potentially explosive.

In the filing with a court in NY, prosecutors blacked out a section describing what laws they believe Cohen has broken, but they said the "crimes being investigated involve acts of concealment" and suspected fraud.

"Although Cohen is an attorney, he also has several other business interests and sources of income".

The hearing, set for 10:30 a.m. Friday, will relate to the search warrant executed this week to obtain various documents in Cohen's possession.

But they provided new details on the investigation, which they said has been going on for months.

"Absent a search warrant, these records could have been deleted without record, and without recourse", prosecutors wrote.

An attorney for the president, Joanna Hendon, appeared as well, telling the judge that Trump has "an acute interest in these proceedings and the manner in which these materials are reviewed". McDougal has said she had a longer affair with him.

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Earlier this week, for instance, he promised to soon unveil a forensic sketch of the unidentified "thug" he said threatened Daniels in 2011 to keep quiet about the alleged Trump affair. "I think maybe Trump has met his match in this guy". "And anyone who has ever hired a lawyer a close third". "We've given, I believe, over a million pages' worth of documents to the special counsel", he told the reporters. "Attorney-client privilege is dead!". That logic is unlikely to soothe Trump, who is reportedly itching to fire Sessions, Rosenstein, and Mueller. "The retention of such privileged information from the President presents not only routine attorney-client privilege and attorney work product issues, but also creates constitutional concerns regarding officers of the Executive Branch rummaging through the private and privileged papers of the President".

Attorney Stephen Ryan, who represents Cohen, called the action "completely inappropriate and unnecessary".

Monday's raids of attorney Michael Cohen's home and office followed a referral by U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who for almost a year has been looking into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow.

Federal Bureau of Investigation agents searched Cohen's office, apartment and a hotel room where he's been staying while his home is under renovation, looking for documents related to Daniels and McDougal. Trump said when asked last week that he did not know about the payment and referred other questions about the matter to Cohen. The regulations say only Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller last May, has the authority to fire him and only for specific cause.

The cover comes after the Federal Bureau of Investigation earlier this week raided Cohen's office, seizing emails, documents and records, some of them related to his payment to adult-film star Stormy Daniels. Both women say they had affairs with Trump.

But, he said, "Michael Avenatti has very skillfully used the press to build hype around himself and his client". He then followed with a suggestive tweet that "the weather forecast for Monday looks very Stormy".

Public corruption prosecutors in the US attorney's office in Manhattan are trying to determine, according to one person familiar with the investigation, if there was any fraud related to payments to McDougal and Clifford. No story subsequently appeared in the National Enquirer. Cohen said he paid Daniels $130,000 in exchange for her silence about her claim to have had a one-night-stand with Trump.

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