According to reports, in all likelihood it was a referral made by special counsel Robert Mueller to either the Department of Justice, the FBI or both that prompted the FBI to raid the hotel room and home of Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney.
Cohen’s attorney, Stephen Ryan said in a statement following the raid:
“Today the U.S. 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. 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.”
Was the referral from Mueller’s office part of Mueller’s witch hunt to find anything he can on Trump?
It appears that way to many people.
When Fox News asked the office of the special counsel about the scope of the raid, a spokesman apparently referred them to U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Title 28, Section 600.4 regarding “additional jurisdiction.”
“If in the course of his or her investigation the Special Counsel concludes that additional jurisdiction beyond that specified in his or her original jurisdiction is necessary in order to fully investigate and resolve the matters assigned, or to investigate new matters that come to light in the court of his or her investigation, he or she shall consult with the Attorney General, who will determine whether to include the additional matters within the Special Counsel’s jurisdiction or assign them elsewhere.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York executed a series of search warrants that allowed the FBI to seize privileged communications between Trump and his personal attorney.
Ryan said that federal prosecutors had indicated to Ryan that the New York action is, in part, a referral by Mueller.
If Mueller had hard evidence against Trump there would have been no need to refer information out to a federal court in order to target Trump’s attorney.
In addition, there would have been no need to expand the jurisdiction under CFR Title 28, Section 600.4, if evidence was before Mueller about possible wrongdoing by Trump.
In other words, it would appear that Mueller is going on another scavenger hunt. This time, Cohen is in the hot seat.
What is Mueller likely hoping to find?
Mueller, among other things, wants to get his hands on the information that is protected under the attorney-client privilege between Cohen and Trump.
He can do this under the crime-fraud exception to the privilege.
The attorney-client privilege is typically waived in most states under the following circumstances:
- the client was in the process of committing or intended to commit a crime or fraudulent act, and
- the client communicated with the lawyer with intent to further the crime or fraud, or to cover it up.
Cohen made statements in February that he paid Stormy Daniels $130,000 ‘out of his own pocket’ and without Trump’s knowledge.
“Neither the Trump organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly. The payment to Ms. Clifford was lawful, and was not a campaign contribution or a campaign expenditure by anyone.”
Cohen had apparently made a similar statement to the Federal Election Commission in response to a complaint that a watchdog group who alleged that the payment Cohen made through a limited liability company was an in-kind contribution to the Trump campaign.
Trump has also indicated that he was unaware of Cohen’s actions.
According to the Washington Post, through sources close to the investigation (we’ve heard that before), Cohen “is under federal investigation for possible bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations, according to three people with knowledge of the case.”
Sounds eerily similar to what Mueller did in regards to indicting Paul Manafort.
Bottomline, here is what it appears that Mueller is hoping to prove through evidence seized during Monday’s raid.
- Mueller is hoping to catch Cohen in a lie regarding statements he made about where the money came from when he paid Stormy Daniels $130,000.
- Since Cohen allegedly made similar statements to the Federal Election Commission (presumably under oath), he would have potentially committed perjury if he was found to have lied.
- Mueller is then looking to find out if the money paid Daniels violated campaign financing or was obtained by other fraudulent or criminal means.
- Mueller would then hope to connect Trump with having had knowledge or involvement in any wrongdoing that Cohen may have committed.
- If that is proven, then the attorney-client privilege is waived and Mueller can use that evidence against both Cohen and Trump.
At this point, as usual, it’s another long shot with Mueller hoping he can “throw something against the wall and make it stick.”
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