WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The F.B.I. on Monday raided the offices and home of President Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen, law enforcement sources said, in a dramatic new development in a series of probes involving close Trump associates.
Cohen’s lawyer, Stephen M. Ryan, said that U.S. prosecutors conducted a search that was partly a referral by the Office of Special Counsel, Robert Mueller.
Mueller is investigating whether members of Trump’s 2016 campaign colluded with Russia during the U.S. presidential election. Trump has called the probe a “witch hunt” and denied any collusion.
The raid could increase legal pressure on the president, because it involves the records of his longtime attorney and indicates a second center of investigations in Manhattan, alongside Mueller’s Washington-based probe.
Cohen has been at the center of a controversy over a $130,000 payment he has admitted making shortly before the 2016 election to porn star Stormy Daniels, who has said that she had sex once with Trump in 2006 and was paid to keep quiet about it.
Trump reacted with unusually harsh language to news of the raid.
“It’s a disgraceful situation. It’s a total witch hunt. I’ve been saying it for a long time,” Trump said at the opening of a meeting with military and national security advisers to discuss Syria.
Federal prosecutors are investigating Cohen for possible bank and tax fraud, and for possible campaign law violation in connection with the Stormy Daniels payment, and perhaps other matters having to do with foreign support to Trump’s 2016 campaign, a second source familiar with the investigation said.
The New York Times reported on Monday evening that Mueller is investigating a $150,000 payment made in September 2015 by a Ukrainian billionaire, Viktor Pinchuk, to Trump’s charitable foundation in exchange for a 20-minute video appearance by Trump at a conference in Kiev.
Cohen solicited the Pinchuk donation, the Times reported, citing three sources it said were briefed on the matter, although it was not immediately clear if Monday’s raids sought information on that issue.