Federal Bureau of Investigation sought records related to 'Access Hollywood' tape during Michael Cohen raid

Federal Bureau of Investigation sought records related to 'Access Hollywood' tape during Michael Cohen raid

MARTIN: All right. Renato Mariotti, he's a former federal prosecutor, explaining to us the significance of the FBI raid on Michael Cohen's offices.

Among the material sought by investigators in the search were records related to payments made to adult-film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, two women who allegedly had sexual liaisons with Trump years ago.

A furious Trump slammed the move as a "disgrace" and said the Federal Bureau of Investigation "broke into the office of one of my personal attorneys". 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.

Daniels says it was part of a deal to prevent her from giving interviews about the supposed affair with married Mr Trump - an allegation that might have cost him votes.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders equated the effect of the investigation and Russia's support for Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.

Cohen, a longtime confidant and Trump Organization lawyer for a decade, did not respond to requests for comment. And it delved deeply into Mr. Cohen's past, including documents about Mr. Cohen's personal and business finances, including his work as a NY taxi fleet manager. Allies of Trump's are now fearful that those tapes are in the hands of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which raided Cohen's office Monday.

In a statement Monday, Cohen's lawyer, Stephen Ryan, called the raid "inappropriate and unnecessary".

Cohen admitted to paying Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, $130,000.

The interest in Cohen's records related to the Access Hollywood incident was first reported by the New York Times.

The Justice Department's move against Cohen required approval at the highest levels of the department where such raids involve separating privileged communication between attorneys and their clients from communication that may be relevant to criminal investigations. Mueller has also charged Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, who has pleaded not guilty, and 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities.

Federal investigators specifically asked for all communications about the recording - which surfaced a month before the 2016 presidential election - that personal attorney Michael Cohen had with then-candidate Trump, as well as with his campaign aides.

If Cohen used his own money and acted without Trump's knowledge, it could be considered an illegal contribution to Trump's campaign and put him in legal jeopardy.

According to news reports Thursday, Cohen was known to tape conversations with associates. "He is the president of the United States", she emphasized at one point. The President may have been lying about his ignorance of the payment; if not, he ought to have had a notion that there might be some questions about Cohen's lawyering practices.

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