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Justice Department confirms Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen is under “criminal investigation”

A Friday court filing is the first confirmation that prosecutors are looking at criminal charges

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, pictured January 15, 2018.
Gotham/GC Images

The Justice Department is investigating President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen as part of a “criminal investigation,” according to a court filing Friday.

The FBI raided Cohen’s office and hotel room on Monday, and Cohen’s lawyers are trying to prevent the FBI from looking through the documents and electronic devices agents seized in their search.

Cohen is at the center of several stories involving payoffs to women who claim to have had relationships with Trump before he was president. Cohen reportedly paid one woman, Stormy Daniels, directly with his own money while allegedly helping to organize the payment for a second, Karen McDougal, from a tabloid publisher.

The FBI conducted the search because of concerns that the money may have violated campaign finance law, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday. The Justice Department is also looking at whether Cohen violated banking laws in how he got the money.

Reporters asked White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Friday if Cohen is still Trump’s personal lawyer. Sanders said she wasn’t sure.

Friday’s filing is the first time the Justice Department has confirmed that Cohen is being looked at for potential criminal activity. The Justice Department was responding to Cohen’s legal maneuvering, saying that the agency has the right to go through what evidence it collected on Monday.

“The searches were authorized by a federal magistrate judge, who had found probable cause to believe that the premises and devices searched contained evidence, fruits, and instrumentalities of conduct for which Cohen is under criminal investigation,” the Justice Department’s filing said.

The court document doesn’t say what Cohen is being investigated for or what FBI agents collected in their raid.

Trump responded to Monday’s raid by calling it a “disgrace,” and lashed out at special counsel Robert Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in comments to reporters before a meeting on the situation in Syria. He then tweeted about the two on Wednesday, saying they were going “crazy.”