Oh, So The FBI Was Really Looking For Information About The Access Hollywood Tape?

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Posted: Apr 11, 2018 8:08 PM
Oh, So The FBI Was Really Looking For Information About The Access Hollywood Tape?

The FBI raid on lawyer Michael Cohen’s office and hotel room had another action item for federal authorities: the Access Hollywood tape. Cohen, President Trump’s personal lawyer, is under investigation for bank fraud and FEC violation stemming from payments to porn star Stormy Daniels, who alleges an affair with Trump in 2006. Daniels was paid $130,000 during the 2016 campaign. It’s been seen as hush money, but also illegal political contributions since it sought to bury damaging information about Donald Trump. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein signed off on the warrants.

This search warrant was executed on information reportedly discovered by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. It was not related to the collusion probe, but he forwarded this information to other federal authorities. The New York Times reported that the Access Hollywood tape, which featured the future president making vulgar remarks about women with ex-Today Show host Billy Bush in 2005; Bush was with Access at the time, was also the subject of federal agents’ raid on Monday:

The F.B.I. agents who raided the office and hotel of President Trump’s lawyer on 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 D. Cohen, tried to suppress damaging information about Mr. Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.

It is not clear what role, if any, Mr. Cohen played regarding the tape, which was made public a month before the election. But the fact that the agents were seeking documents related to the tape reveals a new front in the investigation into Mr. Cohen that is being led by the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan.

The disclosure comes a day after it was revealed that the 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 Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen regard the warrant as an attempt by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, to pry into Mr. Trump’s personal life — using other prosecutors as his proxy.

Trump has denounced the raid as a “disgrace,” an “attack” on the nation, and “a witch-hunt.” As for firing Mueller, Trump said, “we’ll see what happens,” which sent shockwaves through Washington. Democrats talked about legislation to protect the special counsel. That phrase has been the kiss of death to Rex Tillerson and Steve Bannon, who served as Trump’s secretary of state and chief White House strategist respectively.