The Stormy Daniels affair just turned into a Category 5 hurricane. The FBI has raided the office of President Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen, according to the New York Times. Vanity Fair reports that a team of feds also searched the Park Avenue hotel where Cohen has been staying. The agents reportedly seized documents and records connected to the $130,000 hush-money payment Cohen made to the porn star shortly before the 2016 election – allegedly on Trump’s behalf – and perhaps much more.
In a statement to Rolling Stone, Stormy Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, said: “As I predicted last week on CNN and MSNBC, Mr. Cohen has been placed in the crosshairs by Mr. Trump. He has been set up to take the fall. An enormous amount of misplaced faith has been placed on his shoulders and I do not believe he has the mettle to withstand it. If I’m correct, this could end very, very badly for Mr. Trump and others.”
Monday’s raid represents the first collision of the Daniels affair and the Russia investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller. According to the Times, the search warrants were based on evidence uncovered by the special counsel, but were not related to the Russia investigation, itself. A raid by the FBI can only be undertaken after establishing probable cause. The Washington Post reports that Cohen is under investigation for possible bank fraud and campaign finance violations.
A lawyer for Cohen said in a statement that the raid was “completely inappropriate and unnecessary” and invoked Cohen’s attorney-client privileges regarding many of the documents that were taken. In a detail sure to trouble the president, the Times reports that the FBI “seized emails, tax documents and business records,” in addition to communications between Trump and Cohen.
Later on Monday, President Trump called the raid “a disgrace,” “an attack on our country” and referred to Mueller and his team as “the most conflicted groups of people I have ever seen.” When asked if he plans to fire Mueller, Trump said, “We’ll see what happens.”
Trump responds to question “Why don’t I just fire Mueller”
“Many people have said you should fire him… we’ll see what happens, I think this is disgraceful and so do a lot of other people, this is a pure and simple witch hunt” pic.twitter.com/llJrXhig42
— TheBeat w/Ari Melber (@TheBeatWithAri) April 9, 2018
This story will be updated as more details emerge.
Additional reporting by Tessa Stuart.