FBI raid on Cohen office a search for ‘Access Hollywood’ tape, say sources

In elusive recording Donald Trump heard making tasteless comments about women

President Trump has taken a more adversarial tone toward Robert Mueller since the warrant was executed Monday. File photograph: Reuters

President Trump has taken a more adversarial tone toward Robert Mueller since the warrant was executed Monday. File photograph: Reuters

 

The FBI agents who raided the office and hotel of President Donald Trump’s lawyer Monday were seeking all records related to the “Access Hollywood” tape in which Mr Trump was heard making vulgar comments about women, according to three people who have been briefed on the contents of a federal search warrant.

The search warrant also sought evidence of whether the lawyer, Michael Cohen, tried to suppress damaging information about Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign. The disclosure comes a day after it was revealed that authorities also sought documents from Mr Cohen related to payments made to two women who claim they had affairs with Mr Trump, Karen McDougal and Stephanie Clifford, as well as information on the role of the publisher of the National Enquirer in silencing the women.

The new details from the warrant reveal that prosecutors are keenly interested in Mr Cohen’s unofficial role in the Trump campaign. And they help explain why Mr Trump was furious about the raid. People close to the president and Mr Cohen regard the warrant as an attempt by the special counsel, Robert Mueller, to pry into Mr Trump’s personal life – using other prosecutors as his proxy.

Stephen Ryan, a lawyer for Mr Cohen, referred to his earlier description of the raid as “completely inappropriate and unnecessary.” He has described it as an overreach by prosecutors into the privileged communications between Mr Cohen and his client, Mr Trump.

Mr Cohen has acknowledged paying $130,000 to Ms Clifford, a pornographic film actress known as Stormy Daniels, who said she had a sexual encounter with Mr Trump. She signed a nondisclosure agreement, promising not to discuss the matter. Agents also sought documents related to deals with other women.

Federal prosecutors are investigating Mr Cohen for possible bank fraud, but they are also scrutinising whether these efforts amounted to improper campaign donations to Mr Trump. President Trump, who had been planning to make a decision this week about whether to sit down with the special counsel for an interview, has taken a more adversarial tone toward Mr Mueller since the warrant was executed Monday.

Although he had said for months that he wanted to be questioned by Mr Mueller, his stance has changed since Monday, and the prospect of him willingly being questioned is far less likely, according to two people briefed on the matter. – New York Times