Michael Cohen, the longtime attorney of President Trump, is under federal investigation for possible bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations, according to three people with knowledge of the case.
FBI agents on Monday raided Cohen’s Manhattan office, home and hotel room as part of the investigation, seizing records about Cohen’s clients and personal finances. Among the records taken were those related to a 2016 payment Cohen made to adult-film star Stormy Daniels, who claims to have had a sexual encounter with Trump, according to a fourth person familiar with the investigation….
Cohen used his Trump Organization email in negotiating the agreement with Davidson and in communicating with his bank about the funds.
In February, after a watchdog group filed a complaint about the payment with the Federal Election Commission, Cohen released a statement saying he “used my own personal funds to facilitate” the payment. He rejected the idea that the payment should have counted as a campaign contribution.
“The payment to Ms. Clifford was lawful, and was not a campaign contribution or a campaign expenditure by anyone,” he said, referring to Daniels’s real name, Stephanie Clifford.
While the timing of the payment — 12 days before the presidential election — might suggest an attempt to influence the outcome, timing is not enough to prove intent, said Rick Hasen, a professor specializing in election law at the University of California at Irvine.
“It would be very difficult to bring one of these cases without some good documentary evidence,” he said. “I think a lot of people are underestimating the hurdles that it takes to bring a criminal prosecution.”