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April 16, 2018 | by  | in News Splash | [ssba]

Trump’s America

Federal Agents of the FBI carried out a raid on the home and office of Michael Cohen on 9 April. The personal lawyer to President Donald Trump has been in the spotlight recently after admitting to making a payment of $130,000 to Stephanie Clifford, a porn star professionally known as Stormy Daniels. The payment was a part of a non-disclosure agreement that sought to prevent Daniels from going public during the 2016 Presidential Election, on the details of an affair she allegedly had with Donald Trump in 2006 and 2007.

Daniels took to the media with the story regardless, while President Trump has denied any knowledge of the NDA. When questioned on the payments Trump responded “You’ll have to ask Michael Cohen” — bringing into question the legal validity of the document purportedly signed by Donald Trump himself. A government watchdog group has since filed a federal complaint, which argues that “because the funds were paid for the purpose of influencing the 2016 presidential election”, campaign finance laws may have been violated.

The FBI raid on Michael Cohen was allowed under a broad search warrant, that allows for the seizure of any documents concerning the $130,000 payment. The agents may also seize banking records, and correspondence between President Trump and his lawyer, should the communications pertain to conspiracy to commit a crime. The raid was personally approved by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, based partially on suggestion from the team of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Mueller’s office is also behind the ongoing investigation into the interference from Russian entities into the election of President Trump.

The raid has angered President Trump who has publicly referred to the search as a “disgrace” and “an attack on our country”. Such a reaction has brought on new speculation that the President could move to fire Robert Mueller, thus impeding the probe into Russian meddling. The White House reported to the press on 10 April that President Trump “certainly believes that he has the power” to fire Mueller, seeing the recommendation of the raid as a sign the probe had “gone too far”. Under Justice Department regulations, only Rod Rosenstein has the authority to remove the special counsel from his position.

Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer has called upon Majority Senate Leader Mitch McConnell to bring legislation to the Congress floor that would “protect the special counsel from political interference,” so to avoid a constitutional crisis if Mueller were to be fired. However, McConnell has stated he sees no reason for Congress to act. “I think he will be allowed to finish the job. He should be allowed to finish the job he was assigned,” said McConnell, while refusing to entertain any legislative action that will ensure the investigation can continue unimpeded.  


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