The raids on attorney Michael Cohen represent a dramatic escalation of a federal inquiry led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US election and possible collusion by Trump campaign aides.
Federal agents who raided the office of President Donald Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, were looking for information about payments to a former Playboy playmate and a porn actress who claim to have had affairs with Trump, two people familiar with the investigation said Tuesday.
It reported that Trump went ballistic in December after reading that Robert Mueller had subpoenaed bank records from Deutsche Bank pertaining to Trump Organization business and that Trump wanted to fire Mueller.
Daniels argues that the payment was hush money that prevented her from discussing her affair with Trump in greater detail. Mueller is most conflicted of all (except Rosenstein who signed FISA & Comey letter).
US President Donald Trump: "Fake & Corrupt Russia Investigation. headed up by the all Democrat loyalists, or people that worked for Obama".
Michael Cohen, left, President Donald Trump's personal attorney, stands with his attorney Stephen Ryan on September 19, 2017, after finding out the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing at which they were to appear was canceled. "If he does not hold up, this could end very very badly for [President Trump] and others".
Monday's events renewed concerns that Trump could try to act against Mueller, who was appointed past year by the Justice Department to investigate alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election and potential collusion by Trump's campaign.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders equated the effect of the investigation and Russia's support for Syrian dictator Bashar Assad.
The raid on Cohen though takes the probe close to the Oval Office.
Marks also characterized Trump's comments as freakish but noted that the United States president's words do not constitute obstruction of justice. McDougal, a former playmate, was paid $150,000 by the parent company of the National Enquirer for her story, though the magazine never published it. Cohen paid $130,000 to Daniels as part of an agreement, made before the 2016 election, to keep her from going public with her allegations. The raid of his office was overseen by the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan and based in part on a referral from Mueller.
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The raid creates a new legal headache for Trump as he and his attorneys weigh whether to agree to an interview with Mueller's team, which in addition to investigating potential ties between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign is also examining whether the president's actions constitute obstruction of justice.
Despite assurances from leading Republicans like House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., that the president has not thought about firing Mueller, the December episode was the second time Trump is now known to have considered taking that step. Rosenstein has repeatedly said that he has not seen any reason to dismiss Mueller.
A bipartisan group of four senators plans to introduce legislation today that would protect Mueller's job, two people familiar with the bill said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Republican Senators Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Lindsey Graham of SC and Democratic Senators Chris Coons of DE and Cory Booker of New Jersey planned to introduce legislation on Wednesday (Thursday NZT) that would give any special counsel a 10-day window in which he or she could seek expedited judicial review of a firing, according to two people familiar with the legislation.
Trump spent Monday evening (Tuesday NZT) calling associates to vent and gauge their reaction to the news.
One source familiar with the meeting described it as "tense" as the president's team had learned of the raid shortly before the meeting began, though it did not dominate the conversation.
Rosenstein, as the acting attorney general supervising Mueller's work, has the responsibility of deciding whether to expand Mueller's mandate to include the new topic or to refer it to a USA attorney's office. Certainly Trump is concerned about the former, but it's the overseas affairs that present the greatest danger to his presidency. He encouraged Trump to skip the trip to South America to manage the Syria strategy.
Cohen says he's still loyal to the president but he would have handled the payment differently because of how it has affected his family. "You can't use it as end run around to get to the client", Litman said. Trump officials have denied he had relations with either woman.
Now, Cohen has been ensnared in an apparent Federal Bureau of Investigation probe of his hush-hush work for Trump over the years.