Raid on Trump’s Attorney
In the past 15 months, scandal has riddled the Office of the United States President. This month is no different. The program, 60 Minutes, saw their biggest viewing ever; when the President’s reported ex-mistress and adult film star agreed to do a segment on the show. Stephanie Clifford (i.e. Stormy Daniels) described her intimate interactions with now President Donald Trump and said she was paid to keep quiet about the alleged affair. In the process of investigating the possibility of Russia’s interference in the 2016 Presidential election, the Special Counsel, headed Republican, Robert Mueller, concluded that the way she was paid, was likely illegal. Because this transaction was out of the scope of the Russia investigation, they handed the suspicion up to their boss, Deputy Attorney General of the U.S. Department of Justice, Rod Rosenstein, a Trump appointee. Rosenstein, in agreement with their conclusion passed the evidence to the United States District Attorney of New York Geoffrey Berman, (another Trump appointee.) The evidence was sufficient that Burman proceeded to authorize a search warrant for the office, hotel room, and home of Mr. Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen. The search warrant was “seeking evidence of a $130,000 payout to Daniels” as hush money according to the New York Times, “There are reports that the warrant sought evidence of bank fraud and campaign finance violations, which is consistent with an investigation into allegations that the Daniels payment was illegally sourced or disguised.” (New York Times). To Trump and many of his supporters, it may seem like Mueller is out to get him, however, the process it took to attain a search warrant of that nature required a series of people, many of them appointed by Trump himself, agreeing that probable cause was sufficient for the warrant.
Obtaining the warrant for Cohen’s office was the biggest challenge because Mr. Cohen is a lawyer, and attorney-client privilege is binding except for very particular circumstances. The courts typically request the attorney come forward with the requested information willingly, through the normal disclosure process. However, the courts must have been firmly in the belief that requesting that of Mr. Cohan would unlikely get them all the information and could even risk the destruction of evidence.
Should this investigation uncover anything illegal about the President’s actions it will have a ripple effect both at home and abroad. While this investigation is about illegal transactions between the President, his lawyer and his alleged ex-mistress, any evidence found in the search that has to do with the ongoing Russia investigation can be legally given to the Mueller team and included in their own going investigation.