Saturday 25 May 2019

Trump calls FBI raid on his lawyer's office a 'disgrace'

Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. Photo: Reuters
Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. Photo: Reuters

Rozina Sabur

Donald Trump has erupted with fury at the news that the FBI raided the office of his personal lawyer and seized documents relating to a payment he made to a porn star.

Michael Cohen, the US president's long-serving personal lawyer, has previously admitted paying $130,000 (€105,000) to porn star Stormy Daniels, who claims she had an affair with Mr Trump.

Mr Trump said the FBI "broke into" Mr Cohen's New York offices, and described it repeatedly as "a disgrace".

Federal prosecutors obtained the warrant to search Mr Cohen's office after receiving a referral from the special counsel Robert Mueller, who is tasked with heading up the Russia investigation.

The search is not believed to be connected to the Russia probe, but is thought to have resulted from information Mr Mueller uncovered.

"It's a disgrace. It's frankly a real disgrace. It's an attack on our country, and what we all stand for. This is a pure and simple witch hunt," Mr Trump said.

He also described Mr Mueller's team as "the most conflicted group of people I have ever seen", wrongly stating that they were "almost all Democrats", and lashed out once again at his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, for recusing himself from the Russia investigation.

Asked why he did not simply fire Mr Mueller, he said: "I think it's really a sad situation.

"Many people have said you should fire him. They found nothing."

Yesterday morning Mr Trump tweeted: "Attorney-client privilege is dead!"

Mr Cohen's lawyers called Monday's search "completely inappropriate and unnecessary".

Mr Cohen's payment to Stormy Daniels - real name Stephanie Clifford - has come under scrutiny after it emerged it was made just weeks before the 2016 election. An election watchdog group complained about the payment, arguing it could be classed as an undisclosed campaign contribution, something Mr Cohen denies.

The lawyer has refused to say what the money was for but the White House has repeatedly said Mr Trump "vehemently denies" having sex with Ms Daniels. Last week Mr Trump said he was unaware of the payment to Ms Daniels.

The payment to Ms Daniels forms just a part of the investigation by FBI officers on Monday, a source told the 'New York Times'.

Federal agents are also believed to have seized emails, tax documents and business records - including communications between Mr Trump and Mr Cohen.

"Today the US Attorney's office for the southern district of New York executed a series of search warrants and seized the privileged communications between my client, Michael Cohen, and his clients," said Stephen Ryan, his lawyer.

"I have been advised by federal prosecutors that the New York action is, in part, a referral by the Office of Special Counsel, Robert Mueller."

Mr Ryan told the 'New York Times' his client has co-operated with authorities and turned over thousands of documents to congressional investigators looking into Russian election meddling. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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