In perhaps the world’s biggest case of mission creep, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has gone from Russian collusion to whether Donald Trump
was shaken down allegedly paid past mistresses to keep quiet about his marital indiscretions from over a decade ago, reports ABC.
Sources told ABC News that, according to the warrant, investigators sought records related to Cohen’s interactions with adult-film star Stormy Daniels, who claims she had a one-night stand with Trump in 2006, and playboy model Karen McDougal, who claims they had a 10-month affair from 2006 to 2007. Both women said they had consensual relationships with Trump long before he was elected president. Trump has denied their accusations.
Investigators also sought records related to Cohen’s interactions with Trump campaign officials during the 2016 election cycle, according to the sources. Cohen never held an official role with the campaign, but he became deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee after the election. –ABC
The New York Times also reports that investigators were interested in records tied to the “Access Hollywood” tape in which Trump can be heard bragging to host Billy Bush in 2005 that women let men “grab them by the pussy” when you’re “a star.”
“It’s a broad swath of documents and records with those categories and it means that those categories were approved by the Judge as that there is probable cause of a crime in each of those categories,” said Matt Olsen, a former prosecutor and ABC News contributor. “The thrust of it appears to be about potential campaign finance violations…but it’s surprisingly a broad request of documents.”
On Tuesday night, President Trump dined with famed law professor and pundit Alan Dershowitz, who told Slate‘s Isaac Chotiner:
I know they went after bank records, for example. Bank records could be gotten from banks. I am told they went after tax records. Tax records could be gotten from the tax authorities. –Alan Dershowitz via Slate
Perhaps most saliently put in a 13-part Tuesday Twitter thread, New Yorker staff writer Adam Davidson explains exactly why the raid on Cohen’s office is such a watershed moment in Mueller’s probe.
The upshot, is that, other than Don Jr. or Ivanka turning states’ witness against their father, Cohen is the former Trump Organization dealmaker who is most likely to provide investigators with evidence of criminality.
(Thread can be found here, knitted together below for your convenience)
Michael Cohen is the most important non-Trump in the Trump business world.
He oversaw nearly all the foreign deals as the Trump Org shifted its focus to sketchy third-tier overseas oligarchs.
He was not part of the Trump Org legal team in any real sense. Trump Org lawyers either set up contracts for deals others had brought or they handled litigation.
Cohen did neither. He was a deal maker. The only non-Trump deal maker doing all those international deals.
He, Ivanka, and Don, Jr., were the entire global development team at a time when the company was exploring dozens of deals all over the world.
If he were to flip, it would be Ivanka and Don, Jr. who should be most worried.
We know, of course, that the Trump Org did business with corrupt politicians, sanctions-violators, money launderers, etc. The only open question is how much they knew about their partners’ activity.
Cohen knows how much they knew. He knows what he told them.
He is also the most obvious link between Trump and Russia. He oversaw the deal in Georgia which was, explicitly, a first attempt at a former Soviet deal with the goal of a ring of Trump properties all over the CIS.
Cohen flew to Kazakhstan and negotiated the failed deal there with Timur Kulibayev, a close ally of Putin’s.
Cohen then worked on the Trump Moscow deal in 2015/2016.
In none of these deals was he acting like a traditional lawyer–simply advising, writing contracts, etc. He was in the country, meeting with the partners, structuring the deal, going back to NY and explaining the deal to the big boss and his kids.
Other than the President, nobody knows as much as Cohen. (And Cohen does seem to have a good memory).
It was stunning that Trump made Cohen his sole personal attorney post-election. Cohen left the Trump Org to form a firm with one client: the President.
But Cohen had never acted as a regular attorney for Trump. He had always been the fixer/deal-maker. So, the move to his new private firm seems solely designed to provide attorney-client privilege. To get his documents out of the Trump Org and into a private office.
This moment is what Trump has been terrified of and trying to avoid since long before Comey was fired and Mueller appointed.
Short of Ivanka or Don, Jr. flipping, Cohen is the key witness.
He knows way, way more than Manafort or Gates.
Also key: it’s been a rough year-plus for Cohen. He lost his place in Trump’s inner-circle, didn’t get the big ticket to the WH.
He has been loudly/vocally loyal, But, in my experience, nobody in Trump-world is truly loyal. It’s all transactional and a grand performance. (People have actually told me: I don’t care how you make Trump look, just make me look like I am defending him.)
We’d guess the probability of a Cohen-pardon is high and the likelihood of Mueller being fired has grown.
We would also guess that there are NY state charges.
Mueller, of course, knows all this and much more and referred the raid anyway.
It’s on now.