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International News
Trump goes ballistic as FBI closes in, raids his personal lawyer
 
(WASHINGTON, Apr 10, 2018):US President Donald Trump went ballistic on Monday after the FBI swooped down on his personal lawyer in connection with possible bank fraud and campaign finance violations relating to the Stormy Daniels affair, the raid coming in the middle of Syria crisis.

The Syria crisis, as much as the feds closing in on his attorney Michael Cohen, who is said to have paid off the porn star for what she claims was one-night peccadillo with Trump, resulted in the President scrubbing a scheduled trip to South America for the Summit of the Americas later this week. Vice-President Mike Pence will stand in for him, the White House said.

While Trump has pledged that the US will act against Syria any moment now for its alleged chemical attack on its own citizens, the domestic scandal that has pitted the President against the FBI took centerstage amid the international crisis.

"Attorney-client privilege is dead!" "A TOTAL WITCHHUNT," Trump raged in a couple of terse tweets on Tuesday morning after he had earlier compared the FBI raid to "attack against the country."

Attorney-client privilege is the bedrock of lawyering in the US., and the FBI's move against Cohen, including its seizure of documents relating to his dealings with Trump, sent shockwaves through the legal fraternity. Trump supporters said if the same thing had happened to Democrats and liberals, civil liberties' activists would be up in arms. But the Feds' move also suggested they had built a strong case against Cohen to win a warrant.

The raid, on Cohen's Manhattan office, home and hotel room, was conducted by the New York Southern District Attorney's office once headed by Preet Bharara, who was fired by Trump. The replacement is a Trump appointee. It could not have come about with a go-ahead from the Justice Department, effectively setting up the President against his own team.

Indeed, Trump once against fumed about his Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia probe, even as the FBI Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team sought to bring together the disparate lines of inquiry, including a $150,000 payment to Trump's foundation in 2015 by a Ukrainian billionaire.

But it is the $ 130,000 payment by Cohen to the porn worker Stormy Daniels that puts the lawyer, a close friend, aide, and keeper of Trump's secrets, in legal jeopardy. Trump called the raid a "real disgrace" and accused his own Justice Department of a "witchhunt," saying they "broke into" Cohen's office, although the FBI executed the search with a warrant.

Trump also criticized deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing the Russia investigation, and called Mueller's team "the most biased group of people," aligned with Democrats and former President Barack Obama.

"I have this witch hunt constantly going on for over 12 months now or longer," Trump said at one point. "It's an attack on our country in a true sense; it's an attack on what we all stand for."

He also mused about firing the FBI Special Counsel Robert Mueller saying many people had asked him to sack him and "we'll see what happens." Some pundits believe Mueller's firing is now inevitable and only a matter of time -- and timing.

Cohen, a long time lawyer for Trump who is widely seen as his fixer, has acknowledged facilitating a $130,000 payment in October 2016 to Stormy Daniels, who claims she had a sexual relationship with Trump in 2006.

Cohen says used a home-equity line of credit to finance the payment to Daniels and neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign reimbursed him for the payment; Trump himself says he did not know of the payments.

Cohen could face up to 30 years in prison for felony bank fraud if he paid Stormy Daniels $130,000 by lying to secure a home equity line.

The FBI Special Counsel and his team have variously investigated, raided, and indicted several people in the Trump orbit, leading to the impression that they are zeroing in on the President, even as speculation grows that Trump will eventually fire him. In the latest raid, federal prosecutors are said to have collected communications between Cohen and his clients — including those between the lawyer and Trump.


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