A judicial hearing has adjourned until 2 p.m. on efforts by President Donald Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, to prevent federal investigators from using materials the FBI seized in a search of his Manhattan office, apartment and hotel room this week.
Uncertainty over exactly what Federal Bureau of Investigation agents seized from Cohen comes as Trump faces an intensifying probe by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into whether his presidential campaign colluded with Russian Federation.
The Times reported that the documents seized in the raids related to Cohen's payment of $130,000 to the adult-film actress Stormy Daniels, who alleges she had an affair with the president, as well as records of an alleged $150,000 payment relating to Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model who also says she had an affair with Trump.
Nancy Gertner, former MA federal judge, senior lecturer at Harvard Law School and WBUR legal analyst.
Attorney-client privilege allows clients to discuss their legal troubles with lawyers, protecting them from being incriminated by said correspondence.
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A source familiar with the matter has said Federal Bureau of Investigation agents who conducted the raids were seeking information on payments to Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who also claims to have had a sexual relationship with Trump. The first is that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing the Mueller investigation in light of Attorney General Jeff Sessions's recusal, has decided, at least for the moment, not to expand Mueller's mandate to cover these new matters.
Southern District of New York District Judge Kimba M. Wood is expected to preside at the hearing, according to the court.
Attorney-client protections do not apply to conversations that further a crime or act of fraud, Reuters notes.
When asked about the raid on Michael Cohen, Stormy Daniels's personal lawyer, Michael Avenatti, tweeted, "A large amount of misplaced faith is carried on Michael Cohen's shoulders". The White House has consistently said Trump denies the affair.
Trump has called the raids a witch hunt, an attack on our country, and a violation of rules that ordinarily make attorney client communications confidential.
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With respect to the payment to Ms. Daniels, Cohen has said that he paid the money out of his own pocket out of friendship to the President - which he characterized as a "private transaction" - without Trump's knowledge.
Cohen "would be as damaging a witness against Donald Trump as any witness Mueller could secure".
The FBI confiscated Cohen's emails, tax documents and business letters, as well as the communication between Cohen's clients, including Trump.
Jim Trusty, who formerly headed the Justice department's organized crime unit, said that up until recently, Cohen was described as co-operative with the Mueller probe. Another possibility is that Rosenstein and Mueller are attempting to insulate this investigation from interference in the unlikely event that Trump were to decide to fire Mueller.
Democratic and Republican senators have warned that removing Mueller would trigger a constitutional crisis and likely lead to the president's impeachment.
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