FBI Raid: Mueller Closing the Net on Trump?
Opinion by Lefty G
In a stunning turn of events in the ongoing investigation of Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign the FBI conducted a series of raids at the office, hotel room, and home of Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen.
Unsurprisingly, Donald Trump described the episode to his supporters on Twitter as the FBI having "broke in" to Cohen's office. This is consistent with the President's overall messaging regarding the FBI investigation as being a witch hunt.
Of course in reality the raids were carried out by federal prosecutors with a warrant, at the referral of Robert Mueller, and the approval of the Department of Justice - reportedly with the approval of Trump's Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
The fact that the raid occurred at Trump's lawyers office also means that there must be strong evidence of criminal activity occurring. As an outraged Trump pointed out, communications between him and his lawyer are protected by attorney-client privilege.
But attorney-client privilege is stripped by the crime-fraud exception when those communications involve an attorney and client furthering criminal activity.
In other words, for these warrants to have been approved a federal judge must have been convinced that criminal activity would be uncovered by the raids.
"Access Hollywood", Playboy model, or Porn Star?
The New York Times reported that the goal of the raids was to uncover records related to the now infamous "Access Hollywood" tape which surfaced during the 2016 election. Sources indicated that prosecutors may be seeking evidence of Cohen attempting to suppress the damaging story.
However other sources indicated that the raids may be related to records of the deal to prevent former Playboy model Karen McDougal from speaking about her alleged affair with Donald Trump.
It could also be related to Cohen's attempts to silence another woman - porn star Stormy Daniels - about speaking about her alleged affair with Trump. Or Cohen's involvement with a deal to build a Trump tower in Moscow, and a Ukraine peace deal with Russia.
As Trump's personal lawyer, and "fixer", Michael Cohen has been involved with a large number of Trump's matters over the past decade - which helps explain Trump's angrier-than-usual response to this latest development in the investigation.
Mueller Closing In?
So where does this leave Muller and his investigation? Let's do a quick, and incomplete, recap:
Struck a deal with Trump's National Security Adviser Michael Flynn - who pled guilty to lying to FBI investigators
Has obtained cooperation of Trump's deputy campaign director Rick Gates
Has laid charges against Trump's campaign chairman Paul Manafort
Former Trump campaign staffer George Papadopolous has pled guilty and turned witness
FBI raids on the office, home, and hotel room of Trump's personal lawyer and "fixer" Michael Cohen