WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal agents on Monday raided the office of President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen, seizing records on topics including a $130,000 payment made to porn actress Stormy Daniels.
A furious Trump, who in the last month has escalated his attacks on Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, said from the White House that it was a “disgrace” that the FBI “broke into” his lawyer’s office. He called Mueller’s investigation “an attack on our country,” prompting new speculation that he might seek the removal of the Justice Department’s special counsel.
The raid was overseen by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan and was based in part on a referral from Mueller, said Cohen’s lawyer, Stephen Ryan.
The raid creates a new legal headache for Trump as he and his attorneys weigh whether to agree to an interview with Mueller’s team, which in addition to investigating potential ties between Russia and the Trump campaign is also examining whether the president’s actions constitute obstruction of justice. And the law enforcement action will almost certainly amplify the public scrutiny on the payment to Daniels, who says she had sex with Trump in 2006. The payment was made just days before the 2016 presidential election. Trump told reporters last week that he did not know about it.
Ryan did not elaborate on the documents taken from Cohen’s office but said he has cooperated with investigators, including meeting last fall with lawmakers looking into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Cohen has more recently attracted attention for his acknowledgment that he paid Daniels $130,000 out of his own pocket shortly before the 2016 presidential election. Cohen has said neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Daniels and he was not reimbursed for the payment.
Several former officials at the Federal Election Commission have said the payment appears to be a violation of campaign finance laws, and multiple Washington-based groups have filed complaints with the FEC, urging it to investigate.
Trump answered questions about Daniels for the first time last week, saying he had no knowledge of the payment made by Cohen and he didn’t know where Cohen had gotten the money. The White House has consistently said Trump denies the affair.