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    USA:  FBI raids office of Trump's personal lawyer

    USA:  FBI raids office of Trump's personal lawyer --

    On April 9, 2018, the New York Times reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) raided the New York office of President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, and seized records relating to payments to pornographic actress Stephanie Clifford, better known as Stormy Daniels. 

    The FBI's investigation into Cohen involved possible bank fraud and campaign finance violations, according to the Washington Post. The raid was not directly related to the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election being spearheaded by special counsel Robert Mueller, but it likely resulted from information uncovered during his investigation. The payments to Clifford must be understood as only one issue that the FBI was investigating, given that FBI agents seized a variety of records and communications as part of their probe. The seized communications include direct communications between Donald Trump and Michael Cohen. 

    As reported in the media, Stephen Ryan, a lawyer for Cohen, called the raid "completely inappropriate and unnecessary" and also stated that the raid was partially due to a referral by the special counsel. A spokesman for Squire Patton Boggs, the New York law firm where Cohen's office was located, issued a statement saying: "The firm's arrangement with Mr. Cohen reached its conclusion, mutually and in accordance with the terms of the agreement. We have been in contact with federal authorities regarding their execution of a warrant relating to Mr. Cohen. These activities do not relate to the firm and we are in full cooperation." 

    Earlier in 2018, Cohen admitted to setting up a limited liability company to pay Stephanie Clifford, who has alleged having an affair with Donald Trump in 2006, which the White House vehemently denies.  Now, with the news of the raid on his lawyer's office, Trump reacted harshly, declaring: "It's a disgraceful situation. It’s a total witch hunt. I’ve been saying it for a long time." 

    With the walls closing in on him, Trump also weighed in on the question of  whether he would fire Mueller.  To that end, he said Trump said, "Well, I think it’s a disgrace what’s going on. We’ll see what happens."

    It should be noted that Trump cannot actually fire Mueller; however, he could order Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to end the special counsel's probe.  Should Rosenstein refuse to do the president's bidding in this regard, Trump could then fire Rosenstein, setting in motion a pathway for Mueller's probe to end.

    Note: According to federal law, a special counsel  such as Mueller should confer with the directive authority -- in this case, Rosenstein -- if information not directly related to the Russia-focused investigation came to his attention. It would be up to Rosenstein to decide whether to direct Mueller to investigate the matter  or refer it to another law enforcement authority. 


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