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11 April 2018, 11:19 | Marta Robbins
MATT SAYLES AP
Stormy Daniels claims she was threatened in 2011 to stay quiet about her alleged affair with Donald Trump
"It resulted in the unnecessary seizure of protected attorney-client communications between a lawyer and his clients", Ryan said.
Aides said Trump watched cable news coverage of surprise raids on Cohen's Manhattan office, home and hotel room by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents, who took the lawyer's computer, phone and personal financial records after a referral from Mueller. The Southern District of NY covers Manhattan, the Bronx, and some areas outside the city.
In fact, attorney-client privilege is not absolute and can't be invoked when the discussion was part of an effort to commit a crime.
Cohen surfaced recently as a figure in the "Stormy Daniels" affair.
The FBI reportedly is looking into whether or not the payments made to Daniels and McDougal could possibly violate campaign finance laws, and if so, this could mean a world of trouble for Trump, who has denied both women's accounts.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said it would be "suicide" for the president to move to remove Mueller as special counsel. While the investigators of Cohen's case don't work for Mueller, the two cases are clearly linked, and there would be nothing to prevent Cohen, in the interests of self-preservation, from eventually agreeing to coöperate with both the Southern District of NY and Mueller.
The raid was overseen by the U.S. Attorney's office in Manhattan and was based in part on a referral from special counsel Mueller, said Cohen's lawyer, Stephen Ryan. Now, above and beyond that, this is an unusual and special warrant because this is a search warrant of an attorney's residence. "He wants the investigation to be over and continues to say everything he did in regards to paying Stormy Daniels for the non-disclosure agreement was perfectly legal". A warrant requires high-level approval within the Justice Department, and agency guidelines impose additional hurdles when the search target is an attorney.
"DOJ goes through specific steps using a walled-off group of prosecutors to conduct an initial review so that the prosecutors handling the case are not "infected" by seeing attorney-client privileged materials", he said.
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An aide said Justice Department guidance that only Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein could fire Mueller was no more than guidance and did not apply to Trump, who has the authority to fire anyone in the executive branch. He is now managing director and general counsel at Exiger, a global governance, risk, and compliance firm.
Cohen has said he paid Daniels out of his own pocket shortly before the 2016 presidential election, but has not explained why.
"The decision by the U.S. attorney's office in NY to conduct their investigation using search warrants is completely inappropriate and unnecessary", Ryan said.
The approval could have been delegated to another assistant US attorney working under Berman, Alonso said.
The President has not yet formally nominated Berman in advance of his interim position's expiration next month and Berman does not have the support of his two home state senators, government sources said. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss the investigation. And then you have to make sure - there's a number of guidelines within that the Justice Department has, but one of them is that the search warrant has to be written as narrowly as possible so that you make sure that you're not gaining more evidence than you need.
NY lawyers, in particular, might remember the prosecution of lawyer Lynne Stewart, who was convicted in 2005 of aiding terrorism by smuggling information from an imprisoned client to his followers in Egypt. "This is the way prosecutors get information - sometimes to convict and prosecute, sometimes to exculpate". "If I were a prosecutor hearing both the lawyer and the client say the client had no awareness whatsoever of that, I would now feel very confident going to a judge to seek that material".
"Not everything that a lawyer does is within the scope of the attorney-client privilege", Sandick noted.
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