Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
New York, NY, United States (4E) – The FBI yesterday raided the Rockefeller Center office, home and hotel room of Michael Cohen, the lawyer notorious as Donald Trump’s “fixer” and servile acolyte at the center of the Stormy Daniels imbroglio.
Armed with a federal search warrant, the FBI conducted the raid as part of an investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. Agents seized Cohen’s emails, tax records, business records and other matters related to several issues, including payments made by Cohen to Daniels.
A long-time friend of Trump, Cohen is under federal investigation for bank fraud, wire fraud and violations of campaign finance law. Federal prosecutors at the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office are coordinating the efforts with the investigation being conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
The non-partisan watchdog group Common Cause based in Washington D.C. earlier filed complaints with the Justice Department and the Federal Election Commission, asking both agencies to investigate Cohen’s payment to Daniels as a possible violation of campaign-finance laws. Common Cause said it felt vindicated by the Justice Department’s pursuit of Cohen.
“I’m happy to see the DOJ is doing its job,” said Paul Ryan, the group’s vice president of policy and litigation. “Donald Trump said he knew nothing about the payment to Stormy Daniels. The FBI will now quickly get to the bottom of whether Trump lied to the American people when he said he had no knowledge about Michael Cohen’s payment to Stormy Daniels.”
Michael Avenatti, a lawyer representing Daniels, said Cohen was “placed in the crosshairs by Mr. Trump. He has been set up to take the fall,” said Avenatti.
“An enormous amount of misplaced faith has been placed on his shoulders, and I do not believe he has the mettle to withstand it,” said Avenatti. “If I am correct, this could end very, very badly for Mr. Trump and others.”
Daniels, a porn star who admitted to having sex with Trump in 2006, sued Trump and Cohen in an effort to invalidate the agreement she said she signed 11 days before the 2016 presidential election. In a 60 Minutes interview last month, Daniels said she accepted $130,000 to keep quiet because she had been physically threatened years earlier about going public about the alleged relationship and still feared for her safety. She said Cohen and Trump defamed her by claiming she lied about the affair.
The raid on Cohen has left Trump scared at the prospect the FBI might come upon evidence to prove he and his campaign colluded with the Russians.
“It’s a disgraceful situation. It’s a total witch hunt,” said Trump. “When I saw this, when I heard about it, that is a whole new level of unfairness.”
Trump also blasted Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for his unwavering support of Mueller. Rosenstein earlier dismissed the constant invective from Trump and his cronies.
“I believe much of the criticism will fall by the wayside when people reflect on this era and the Department of Justice,” said Rosenstein. “I’m very confident that when the history of this era is written, it will reflect that the department was operated with integrity.
“I feel very confident in my ability to do the job. In any political job, you recognize that your time is going to be limited. My goal is to get as much done for as long as I’m here in the job.”
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