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

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 562420

Reported Deaths: 7132
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1170781693
Ramsey48500859
Dakota43135425
Anoka39159420
Washington25272274
Stearns21264219
St. Louis16969298
Scott16258118
Wright15030130
Olmsted1284497
Sherburne1079480
Carver996945
Clay790090
Rice7716102
Blue Earth706440
Kandiyohi633681
Crow Wing626586
Chisago557350
Otter Tail549173
Benton539897
Mower453232
Goodhue449972
Douglas446971
Winona440549
Nobles401948
Morrison398359
McLeod398155
Isanti385559
Itasca381553
Beltrami376057
Polk369067
Steele367514
Becker360548
Lyon350048
Carlton332052
Freeborn330329
Pine315121
Nicollet311243
Brown296439
Mille Lacs286850
Le Sueur274922
Todd270930
Cass253826
Meeker240537
Waseca232121
Martin215930
Wabasha20003
Roseau198619
Hubbard175041
Dodge17333
Renville173243
Redwood167035
Houston163015
Cottonwood158721
Fillmore15239
Pennington151919
Chippewa147737
Wadena146321
Faribault145819
Sibley137210
Kanabec135522
Aitkin129536
Watonwan12639
Rock123919
Jackson118910
Yellow Medicine111319
Pipestone110826
Pope10426
Murray10349
Swift100518
Marshall86417
Stevens83810
Lake79219
Clearwater79014
Koochiching78013
Wilkin77712
Lac qui Parle74222
Big Stone5774
Lincoln5613
Grant5558
Norman5239
Mahnomen5178
Unassigned48478
Kittson46822
Red Lake3887
Traverse3625
Lake of the Woods3083
Cook1490

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 359925

Reported Deaths: 5844
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk56360608
Linn20418330
Scott19292236
Black Hawk15620306
Woodbury14975221
Johnson1418681
Dubuque13210204
Dallas1096096
Pottawattamie10836164
Story1036847
Warren561286
Clinton541991
Cerro Gordo525687
Webster508792
Sioux508373
Marshall477675
Muscatine464297
Des Moines444165
Wapello4255121
Buena Vista422640
Jasper408670
Plymouth398979
Lee369555
Marion355975
Jones293955
Henry287437
Carroll280652
Bremer280060
Crawford262940
Boone260033
Benton251555
Washington249650
Dickinson244343
Mahaska226050
Jackson219342
Kossuth213864
Clay212825
Tama207171
Delaware204639
Winneshiek195033
Page190721
Buchanan189131
Cedar185223
Fayette183741
Hardin182142
Wright180735
Hamilton178549
Harrison177273
Clayton167455
Butler162734
Mills159320
Cherokee157638
Floyd156542
Lyon155541
Madison155319
Poweshiek153333
Allamakee149451
Iowa146424
Hancock144234
Winnebago137131
Grundy135532
Cass135454
Calhoun133512
Jefferson131435
Emmet130340
Shelby129437
Sac128619
Louisa127449
Appanoose126647
Mitchell125441
Union123332
Chickasaw122815
Guthrie118629
Humboldt118426
Franklin113421
Palo Alto111523
Howard103022
Montgomery101537
Unassigned9990
Clarke98524
Keokuk95131
Monroe94528
Ida90033
Adair84932
Pocahontas84321
Monona81930
Davis80024
Osceola77316
Greene76910
Lucas75923
Worth7138
Taylor65412
Fremont6169
Decatur5929
Van Buren55618
Ringgold53624
Wayne52123
Audubon4969
Adams3314
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