Bharara: Raid approved by people Trump picked

Former US attorney Preet Bharara gives his take on Trump slamming the FBI for raiding his personal attorney's office.

Posted: Apr 10, 2018 9:04 PM
Updated: Apr 10, 2018 9:04 PM

The FBI raids on the home, office and hotel room of President Donald Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen were shocking, but in some ways not surprising. I've been saying for a while now that the President's alleged affair with the adult-film star Stephanie Clifford (aka Stormy Daniels) is not what he should be worried about, both because his evangelical base has given him a "mulligan" on his alleged affairs, and because marital infidelity is not by itself an impeachable offense.

What Trump should be worried about is Michael Cohen.

The President and his supporters can keep calling special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation a "witch hunt," but Monday's developments illustrate just how un-witch-hunty Mueller's probe is.

According to reports, the raid was executed under the auspices of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and would therefore have had to have been authorized by recent Trump appointee Geoffrey Berman. While the reporting isn't crystal clear at this point, most agree this was a referral from the special counsel's office to the Southern District. Which means that Mueller apparently views the alleged hush money payment to Clifford, the now infamously bungled nondisclosure agreement, and any potential legal ramifications thereof (such as possible violation of campaign finance laws, bank fraud, ethical stumblings on the part of Cohen) as tangential to his purview.

As luck would have it, we now have a much clearer sense of what -- exactly -- that purview is, given the recent release of a memo, written by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, outlining in explicit detail that which he authorized Robert Mueller and his team to investigate. Former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort's potential collusion with the Russians was on that list; and while portions of that memo remain redacted from public disclosure, it appears that hush money payments to porn stars didn't make the cut.

In short, while we now know that in the course of their investigation, Mueller and his team have uncovered what they feel is probable cause to investigate potential criminal activity on the part of Michael Cohen, they also believe that such criminal activity does not fall under the mandate of the special counsel's office to prosecute, so they referred the matter to an impartial third-party prosecutor's office.

If this were a witch hunt, no such referral would have been made. Rather, Mueller and his team would have maintained jurisdiction over the matter themselves. But that doesn't mean that the special counsel's office won't reap the benefits of any potential criminal charges brought by the Southern District.

Clifford's lawyer Michael Avenatti, in his tireless and media-saturated pursuit of justice for his client (does this man sleep?) has been gleefully asserting that "Christmas came early" for him and his client.

This is because the President finally broke his uncharacteristic silence on the issue when he recently told reporters on Air Force One that he did not know about the $130,000 payment to Clifford made just days before the 2016 election, and that he didn't know where the money came from.

Well it looks like Christmas came early not only for Avenatti, but for Mueller and his team as well. If the Southern District uncovers evidence of criminal activity on the part of Michael Cohen, that means Mueller and his team can use this as leverage against Cohen in the Russia investigation. There is not a single person better qualified to help the special counsel's office in this regard.

Cohen, Trump's "fixer" for the past decade, knows where the proverbial bodies are buried. Mueller has already used the threat of criminal prosecution as leverage to flip Michael Flynn, Rick Gates, George Papadopoulos, and others who are now cooperating with the investigation. Using leverage of this nature is a tried and true tactic of federal prosecutors, and it works. If Mueller and his team get Cohen to flip, the President has far greater criminal exposure than he ever has previously. And it all started with a porn star and Shark Week.

This piece has been updated to include the new name of the writer's law firm, appearing in the Editor's note.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 22464

Reported Deaths: 942
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin7540565
Ramsey2610103
Stearns198412
Nobles14883
Anoka126259
Dakota118244
Olmsted57510
Washington56230
Kandiyohi4751
Rice4112
Clay40625
Scott3792
Todd2960
Wright2691
Sherburne2192
Mower2161
Carver1852
Benton1692
Steele1480
Martin1265
Blue Earth1221
St. Louis11513
Freeborn970
Pine850
Winona7815
Nicollet747
Carlton730
Cottonwood650
Otter Tail620
Unassigned6110
Goodhue603
Watonwan590
Polk592
Crow Wing571
Itasca537
Chisago501
Dodge460
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Le Sueur431
Morrison400
Douglas390
Jackson390
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Rock210
Swift170
Pennington170
Mille Lacs171
Fillmore171
Wabasha170
Brown142
Faribault130
Beltrami130
Sibley130
Cass122
Norman110
Wilkin113
Kanabec111
Pipestone100
Marshall90
Pope80
Wadena80
Aitkin70
Koochiching70
Yellow Medicine60
Lincoln50
Renville50
Mahnomen51
Red Lake40
Traverse30
Big Stone30
Clearwater30
Redwood30
Grant30
Lac qui Parle30
Houston20
Lake10
Hubbard10
Roseau10
Kittson10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 18342

Reported Deaths: 496
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk3876115
Woodbury265831
Black Hawk171343
Linn93876
Marshall87815
Dallas87317
Buena Vista6820
Johnson6058
Muscatine54741
Wapello5384
Crawford4882
Tama40026
Scott34610
Louisa33610
Dubuque33016
Jasper25716
Pottawattamie2277
Sioux2100
Washington1858
Wright1240
Allamakee1194
Plymouth1191
Warren1140
Story961
Poweshiek888
Mahaska888
Bremer676
Henry671
Clinton601
Des Moines581
Boone560
Taylor480
Cedar461
Guthrie443
Clarke400
Benton391
Jones360
Iowa360
Monroe354
Shelby350
Clayton313
Buchanan310
Osceola310
Marion300
Webster291
Hamilton280
Madison261
Fayette260
Monona240
Lee230
Cherokee230
Winneshiek230
Cerro Gordo221
Davis200
Jefferson190
Harrison190
Lyon190
Grundy190
Floyd181
Sac170
Mills160
Hardin150
Butler150
Delaware150
Humboldt140
Ida140
Keokuk140
Hancock140
Appanoose133
Jackson130
Dickinson130
Clay130
Greene130
Howard120
Audubon121
Winnebago110
Cass110
Page100
Van Buren90
Franklin90
Carroll90
Pocahontas90
Chickasaw80
Emmet80
Unassigned80
Kossuth80
Adair70
Adams70
Lucas70
Union60
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Mitchell50
Ringgold40
Fremont40
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