Federal prosecutors specifically sought communications between Donald Trump and his lawyer, Michael Cohen, regarding efforts to prevent disclosure of the infamous “Hollywood Access” tape featuring Trump’s vulgar comments about women when FBI agents raided Cohen’s home and office on Monday, CNN reports.
The specific reference to the president is the first known direct mention of the president in a search warrant, which was obtained by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and approved by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
CNN also said the warrant “is the first indication that investigators suspect there was any effort to suppress the tape.”
Former federal prosecutor and CNN legal analyst Michael Zeldin said Cohen could be charged with election violations, “payment of money so close to the election to be an influencer of the outcome of that election.”
“The other charges would be bank fraud, wire fraud,” added Scott Fredericksen, a former federal prosecutor and independent counsel.
The New York Times first reported that the FBI was searching for records related to the “Access Hollywood” tape and looking for evidence that Cohen attempted to suppress harmful material about Trump during the 2016 presidential election.
Federal agents seized records on topics including a $130,000 payment that Cohen arranged to adult film actress Stormy Daniels Cohen before the election.
They were also looking for information regarding payments to a former Playboy Playmate who claimed to have had an affair with Trump, according to the Associated Press, as prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan work to determine if there is any fraud related to the payments. Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, detailed her alleged relationship with Trump recently during an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes.”
She says Cohen paid her $130,000 as part of a nondisclosure agreement, and is suing Cohen for defaming her reputation.
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