Michael Cohen under criminal investigation

President Donald Trump's personal attorney is now under criminal investigation. CNN's Evan Perez reports.

Posted: Apr 16, 2018 3:23 PM
Updated: Apr 16, 2018 3:23 PM

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's personal attorney, has been "under criminal investigation" for months in New York because of his business dealings, the Justice Department said Friday.

The revelation comes amid a courtroom drama that unfolded Friday, as Cohen's attorneys and Trump's attorneys began a fight hours before with the US Attorney's Office in Manhattan over a massive raid of Cohen's records.

Cohen's attorneys have filed a temporary restraining order in the matter, asking the court to stop federal prosecutors from using some of the records they seized. Cohen did not appear in court Friday morning and has not been charged with a crime.

In response to Cohen's motion to prevent prosecutors from using evidence collected in Monday's raids of his home and office, the US attorney in New York asserted the raids were authorized by a federal judge to seek evidence of conduct "for which Cohen is under criminal investigation."

A court filing did not detail what Cohen is under investigation for.

But the filing contains the first details released by the Justice Department on the searches, which covered Cohen's residence, hotel room, office, safety deposit boxes and two cell phones. Previous search warrants allowed New York federal prosecutors to search multiple email accounts, the filing said. In them, they found that Cohen had done "little to no legal work, and that zero emails were exchanged with President Trump."

The prosecutors assert that they have confidence that any seized material would not fall under the significant amount of attorney-client privilege that Cohen has claimed. They said Cohen has told at least one witness that his only client was Trump.

The prosecutors noted Cohen had personally not turned over any documents to Robert Mueller's Special Counsel investigation. Initially, Mueller had requested some records from Cohen while he was with the Trump family company — a position he held for about a decade — yet dropped the request after Cohen pushed back. Mueller's office referred the case about his business dealings to New York but hasn't been involved since, the Manhattan prosecutors said.

Monday's raids included a search for communications related to efforts to suppress negative information ahead of the election, including communications that Trump had with Cohen regarding the infamous "Access Hollywood" tape that captured Trump making lewd remarks about women that surfaced a month before the election, CNN reported this week.

It also potentially involved records related to porn star Stormy Daniels, who was paid $130,000 weeks before the election to silence an alleged affair she had with Trump. Records related to Cohen's taxi medallion business were also sought.

Prosecutors say they've set up what's known as a "taint team" or "filter team" to review Cohen's documents so nothing they seized is used improperly or breaches client confidentiality.

Each search warrant specifically describes how records seized that may fall into attorney-client privilege will be filtered out by a team that's walled off from the federal agents who have conducted the investigation, the prosecutors wrote.

Once they've reviewed the records, the filter team can give to the investigators communications "between Cohen and persons with whom Cohen undisputedly does not have an attorney-client relationship," likely meaning the records wouldn't be between Cohen and Trump, prosecutors said. The filter team is working from a list of individuals and companies they've compiled regarding people who aren't Cohen's legal clients.

Cohen's lawyers, for their part, have asked to review the material for themselves, a proposal which the Manhattan prosecutors are fighting.

The Southern District of New York prosecutors also heard from Trump Organization lawyers, who want them to throw out all communication between Cohen, the company and its employees.

Following the hearing Friday, the judge ordered the parties to return to court Monday for another hearing, where Cohen will have to be present.

Joanna Hendon, a new lawyer for Trump who appeared in court, said her law firm, Spears & Imes LLP, was engaged by Trump on Wednesday and she was "not prepared" to present her argument.

The Justice Department is asking for a so-called taint team to vet the material seized in the raids Monday, as is standard process. Cohen's lawyer is asking for the lawyers themselves to review the material or a "special master" to decide what is relevant to the case, and Hendon is concerned about a taint team or however the material is handled.

On Monday, Cohen's attorney called the searches "completely inappropriate and unnecessary."

"It resulted in the unnecessary seizure of protected attorney client communications between a lawyer and his client," attorney Stephen Ryan said in the statement.

Michael Avenatti, a lawyer for Stormy Daniels, also made an appearance at the hearing. In a footnote in its filing, the prosecutors expressed doubt that any communications between Trump and Cohen regarding a payoff to Daniels before the election would be covered under attorney-client privilege. They cited the President's own comments.

"Among other things, President Trump has publicly denied knowing that Cohen paid Clifford, and suggested to reporters that they had to "ask Michael" about the payment," the footnote argues, citing a story by CNN's Kevin Liptak.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 110759

Reported Deaths: 3503
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion20645758
Lake10172317
Elkhart6321108
St. Joseph600797
Allen5921200
Hamilton4646109
Vanderburgh327129
Hendricks2638121
Monroe236836
Johnson2250122
Tippecanoe218413
Clark210156
Porter203344
Cass19279
Delaware184261
Vigo175722
Madison156575
LaPorte135637
Floyd130061
Howard127063
Kosciusko118717
Bartholomew114557
Warrick111935
Marshall98024
Boone94446
Dubois94018
Hancock90042
Noble87632
Grant86733
Henry75424
Wayne73714
Jackson7319
Morgan69438
Shelby66329
Daviess63927
LaGrange62911
Dearborn62128
Clinton59112
Harrison55624
Putnam5209
Montgomery50221
Lawrence50028
White47814
Knox4769
Gibson4644
Decatur45339
DeKalb44211
Miami4223
Fayette41713
Greene41535
Jasper3802
Steuben3647
Scott35310
Sullivan32812
Jennings30812
Posey2940
Franklin29325
Clay2925
Orange28224
Ripley2788
Carroll26913
Wabash2608
Washington2571
Starke2487
Wells2472
Whitley2476
Adams2403
Jefferson2403
Fulton2302
Huntington2173
Spencer2154
Tipton21522
Randolph2067
Perry20213
Newton17011
Jay1680
Owen1641
Martin1590
Rush1494
Pike1361
Vermillion1250
Fountain1152
Blackford1142
Pulaski1131
Crawford1020
Brown1013
Parke932
Benton880
Union770
Ohio767
Switzerland680
Warren401
Unassigned0225

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 143547

Reported Deaths: 4612
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin25846603
Cuyahoga17041642
Hamilton12698307
Montgomery7443152
Lucas7091357
Butler558699
Summit5073248
Marion305747
Mahoning2988279
Warren289348
Stark2723168
Pickaway262844
Lorain225386
Delaware211620
Fairfield199950
Columbiana191880
Licking185362
Trumbull1847131
Clark170738
Wood167971
Clermont161120
Lake157249
Medina142038
Allen136567
Miami134149
Greene133827
Portage106466
Mercer104417
Tuscarawas91020
Wayne89866
Erie89644
Ross84922
Richland78119
Madison77612
Darke75939
Belmont70527
Geauga70147
Hancock6559
Ashtabula64148
Athens5882
Lawrence58818
Auglaize5629
Shelby5619
Sandusky55420
Putnam53723
Huron5217
Union4832
Ottawa46430
Scioto4596
Seneca43514
Preble41813
Holmes3707
Muskingum3672
Jefferson3184
Henry29412
Logan2913
Champaign2873
Perry2849
Defiance27910
Clinton27813
Knox27815
Brown2732
Hardin24913
Morrow2472
Washington24623
Fulton2321
Coshocton23011
Jackson2284
Fayette2256
Ashland2224
Highland2203
Crawford2176
Wyandot20112
Williams1973
Gallia17912
Meigs1709
Hocking1599
Guernsey1557
Pike1530
Carroll1497
Adams1204
Van Wert1103
Monroe10618
Paulding1010
Harrison601
Morgan460
Vinton453
Noble260
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 72°
Angola
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 70°
Huntington
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 70°
Decatur
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 70°
Van Wert
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 70°
Warming up for Monday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events