FBI Raids Offices Of Michael Cohen Due To Suspected Bank Fraud And Campaign Finance Violations

The FBI has raided the office and hotel room of Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen. Cohen was allegedly involved in a payoff to Stormy Daniels along with having a major role in Trump’s attempts to build a Trump tower in Moscow.

The Washington Post reports:

The F.B.I. raided the office and hotel room of President Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, on Monday, seizing business records, emails and documents related to several topics, including payments to a pornographic film actress.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are investigating Mr. Cohen for possible bank fraud, and the documents identified in the warrant date back years, according to a person briefed on the search.

The prosecutors obtained the search warrant after receiving a referral from the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, according to Mr. Cohen’s lawyer, who called the search “completely inappropriate and unnecessary.” The search does not appear to be directly related to Mr. Mueller’s investigation, but most likely resulted from information that he had uncovered and gave to prosecutors in New York…

The Cohen raids required high-level authorization within the Justice Department. Under regulations governing the special counsel’s work, Mueller is required to consult with Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein if his team finds information worth investigating that does not fall under his mandate to examine Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

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 U.S. attorney’s office.

Since Cohen is a practicing attorney whose communications with clients are considered privileged, federal prosecutors would have been required to first consider a less intrusive investigative tactic than a search warrant before executing the raids.

To serve a search warrant on a practicing attorney, federal prosecutors are required to obtain approval from top Justice Department officials. That means the acting U.S. attorney in Manhattan, Geoffrey S. Berman, who was appointed to his role by Sessions in January, as well as Justice Department officials in Washington, probably signed off.

As the report notes, the Trump Justice Department would have had to sign off on this with the raid being approved by Rod Rosenstein. In addition, the acting US Attorney in Manhattan, Geoffrey S. Berman would have signed off on this. Berman was was appointed by Trump and personally interviewed by him. While it is possible that this is a “disgraceful” overreach as Trump protests, it is doubtful that people such as Rosenstein and Berman would have signed off on this if there was not strong evidence against Cohen, especially considering the legal requirements in such a situation. As Taegan Goddard wrote:

The U.S. Attorney’s Manual says prosecutors “are expected to take the least intrusive approach consistent with vigorous and effective law enforcement when evidence is sought from an attorney actively engaged in the practice of law.” If a FBI raid is the “least intrusive,” one can only imagine the seriousness of the crimes.

This is definitely not an act which could have been conducted by rogue prosecutors, or something done by anti-Trump partisans.

Popehat has more on the review process which would have been necessary to approve this raid.

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