Attorney Michael Cohen is surrounded by photographers as he walks down the sidewalk, Wednesday, April 11, 2018, in New York. Federal agents who raided the office of Cohen, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, were looking for information about payments to a former Playboy playmate and a porn actress who claim to have had affairs with Trump, two people familiar with the investigation said. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
On Monday, FBI agents working under the direction of the US Attorney (actually his deputy) for the Southern District of New York raided, literally, the offices and residence of Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen. According to reports at the time they were primarily interested in any record of payoffs on the part of Trump and porn-star Stormy Daniels or former Playboy “model” Karen McDougal, or any records concerning a role that the National Enquirer may have had in keeping the two from taking to the talk show circuit.
To me, this seemed and seems like overkill. But it’s Trump, so who cares, right?
Today, the New York Times has more details, or so we are supposed to believe.
The F.B.I. agents who raided the office and hotel of President Trump’s lawyer on Monday were seeking all records related to the “Access Hollywood” tape in which Mr. Trump was heard making vulgar comments about women, according to three people who have been briefed on the contents of a federal search warrant.
The search warrant also sought evidence of whether the lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, tried to suppress damaging information about Mr. Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Federal prosecutors are investigating Mr. Cohen for possible bank fraud, but they are also scrutinizing whether these efforts amounted to improper campaign donations to Mr. Trump.
If this is true–big “if”–Trump should fire Rosenstein and anyone involved in approving this raid on Cohen today. Like this minute. Because this is a travesty. If Cohen didn’t try to suppress the Access Hollywood tape he wouldn’t have been very much of a lawyer. If there was a claim of extortion or blackmail or threatening someone, I could understand. But illegal campaign contributions. In the immortal words of one of my platoon sergeants, “gimme a m–f–ing break.” As far as illegal campaign contributions go, this is how they are treated…if your name isn’t Trump:
President Obama’s campaign has agreed to pay a $375,000 fine to the Federal Election Commission, among the largest penalties in the agency’s history.
Yes, tell me more. And hold onto your hats here because I’m about to engage in whataboutism:
The document shows that the Obama campaign failed to disclose the identities of donors responsible for $2 million in contributions in the weeks ahead of the election. The campaign also misreported the dates of $85 million in other contributions.
In addition, the Obama campaign also kept $1.3 million in contributions that were above the legal maximum allowed for a federal campaign, failing to return them within the 60 days required by law. The campaign kept almost $874,000 of those donations until the FEC discovered they were unlawful.
So a multi-million dollar violation of campaign finance laws gets you a negotiated fine, but a couple of hundred thousand gets an FBI raid. Go figure.
People close to Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen regard the warrant as an attempt by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, to pry into Mr. Trump’s personal life — using other prosecutors as his proxy.
Bingo. That’s what I said yesterday. The “crimes” are a pretense. The real objective is obtaining the privileged communications between Cohen and Trump and passing those on to Mueller. I don’t care how much Chris Christie loves his “taint,” no sane person believes that prosecutors aren’t going to share any an all information that comes out of this raid.