Michael Cohen raid: Donald Trump rages over search of his lawyer's office, describing it as a 'break-in'

US president rails against Robert Mueller, his own attorney general and 'this witch hunt constantly going on'

Clark Mindock
New York
,Jon Sharman
Tuesday 10 April 2018 00:31 BST
Donald Trump rages over search of his lawyer Michael Cohen's office, describing it as a 'break-in'

President Donald Trump has denounced an FBI raid on his lawyer’s office as a break-in and a “disgraceful situation” that came amid an ongoing “attack on what we all stand for” by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Agents carried out a search warrant at the office of Michael Cohen, one of the US president’s personal lawyers, on Monday, seizing records on subjects including a $130,000 (£92,000) payment to adult actress Stormy Daniels who claims she had sex with Mr Trump.

“So I just heard they broke into the office of one of my personal attorneys. ... It’s a disgraceful situation. It’s a total witch hunt,” Mr Trump said of the raid, which was overseen by the US Attorney’s office in Manhattan and was based in part on a referral from Mr Mueller.

Mr Mueller, an experienced prosecutor and former FBI director, is investigating alleged contacts between Mr Trump’s campaign and Russia and examining whether the president’s actions constitute obstruction of justice. On Monday Mr Trump called the probe “an attack on our country”.

“I have this witch hunt constantly going on,” Mr Trump said. ”It’s an attack on our country in a true sense. It’s an attack on what we all stand for.”

Mr Trump stopped short of saying he would fire Mr Mueller when asked if he had considered doing so but launched a fresh attack on his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, for recusing himself from the FBI’s investigation into 2016 election meddling.

“He certainly should have let us know if he was going to recuse himself, and we would have put a different attorney general in,” the president said. “So he made what I consider a very terrible mistake for the country.”

Donald Trump denies knowledge of lawyer's $130,000 payment Stormy Daniels

The FBI raided the offices of Mr Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen earlier in the day Monday, after having received information from Mr Mueller’s investigation. It did not appear as though the FBI’s raid was related to that investigation, however.

“Today the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York executed a series of search warrants and seized the privileged communications between my client, Michael Cohen, and his clients,” Stephen Ryan, Mr Cohen’s lawyer, said. “I have been advised by federal prosecutors that the New York action is, in part, a referral by the Office of Special Counsel, Robert Mueller.”

Mr Cohen said earlier this year that he had paid Ms Daniels – a porn star who says she had an affair with Mr Trump over a decade ago – just before the 2016 US election in exchange for her signing a non-disclosure agreement regarding her interactions with Mr Trump.

Mr Ryan said his client has cooperated with authorities, and has turned over thousands of documents to congressional investigators who are looking into Russian election meddling. The payment to Daniels. whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, is one of several topics being investigated by the FBI. The intelligence agency reportedly seized emails, tax documents, and business records in addition to the documents related to the 2016 payment, sources told the New York Times.

The seized documents also reportedly included some communications between Mr Trump and Mr Cohen, which could require a special team of agents to review since conversations between clients and their lawyers are generally protected from outside scrutiny.

Ms Daniels has been at the centre of controversy since her alleged affair with Mr Trump – which the president and the White House has denied – was first reported on earlier this year.

Since it was exposed that she had had an alleged affair, and that she had been paid by a close associate of Mr Trump just before the election, she has filed a lawsuit challenging the nondisclosure agreement on the grounds that Mr Trump had not himself signed the document. Ms Daniels’ lawyer has otherwise suggested that his client signed the document under some form of duress, but has not indicated in what way she was allegedly forced to sign the document.

Ms Daniels has decided to come forward with her story since the first reports, and gave an interview to Anderson Cooper on CBS’ 60 Minutes in which she detailed her alleged affair with Mr Trump. The president and his legal team have demanded that she pay $20m (£14m) for allegedly violating the nondisclosure agreement.

The allegations stem from a reported encounter between Ms Daniels and Mr Trump in July of 2006 at a golf resort in Lake Tahoe, which straddles the California and Nevada border. Ms Daniels says that she met Mr Trump – whose wife Melania had given birth to their son Barron just months earlier – in his hotel room and that they had engaged in intercourse at that time.

Mr Trump allegedly propositioned or had sex with at least four women during the golf tournament that was being held there at the time. Three of those women are said to have been porn stars and one was allegedly a Playboy model.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in