In the United States, there are few legal privileges as powerful as attorney-client privilege. There’s good reason for such communications to be privileged. Discussions between an attorney and their client can involve very personal information.
Now, according to a number of sources, federal investigators wiretapped the office, home, and hotel room of President Donald J. Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, for weeks leading up to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s raid on his offices. At this point it is not clear when the tap was authorized or who authorized it, but one thing is clear; at least one phone call with the White House was intercepted by investigators due to the ‘ongoing’ claim of impropriety. How did any federal agent or judge think this abuse of power was acceptable?
In court filings related to the investigation into Cohen, federal prosecutors in the state of New York admitted that they’ve at very least monitored various email accounts utilized by the President’s personal attorney.
No one from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York City had any comment on the basis for tapping his phones, and the local FBI bureau also had no comment. Of course, the NY FBI office was involved in protecting both Hillary Clinton and Anthony Weiner, so that seems on par.
According to sources close to the President, after the raid on his attorney’s office, he was told not to try and contact his lawyer.
However, it appears that he ignored that suggestion, causing the newest attorney on his legal team handling Robert Mueller’s special investigation, Rudolph Giuliani, to impress upon him the importance of not calling.
Giuliani warned the president that due to the nature of the charges and investigation against Cohen, it was likely that all of his communications were being intercepted by federal agents.
According to two sources within the White House, Giuliani also told President Trump that he suspects that, if the federal investigators put the screws to his personal lawyer, it is very likely that the lawyer will flip on his employer, rather than risking any serious punishment.
At this point, it is unclear what sort of incriminating information Cohen could have to offer the federal government in exchange for preferential treatment.
The lawyer has represented Donald Trump as a private citizen and a corporate mogul for at least two decades, but it is likely that the investigators are only interested in learning about wrongdoing pertaining to the 2016 election campaign.
Robert Mueller is supposed to be looking at information that will be relevant to his ‘special investigation,’ which continues to drag on without uncovering any serious charges.
It also seems like investigators won’t get much out of Cohen, though, because he has already said he would invoke his Fifth Amendment rights rather than give up information in front of a grand jury. Also, there is no evidence in any court filings pursuant that show any signs of cooperation with prosecution or investigators.
The investigation into his dealings, currently operated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan and the FBI in New York City, jointly, concerns claims that he paid Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about her affair with President Trump.
Investigators are looking into the transfer of $130,000 dollars from the lawyer, allegedly acting in the interests of Donald Trump, to the former adult star, to cover up an affair.
According to the federal government, they’re also seeking information on the 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape where the President made vulgar comments about grabbing woman by various genitalia.
In the name of their investigation, federal investigators raided Cohen’s law office, hotel, and home, seizing numerous papers, recordings, email logs, and other methods of communication between the lawyer and his clients, including the President of the United States.
The lawyer claimed that many of these communications were protected by attorney-client privilege, and that it should be inadmissible in court.
Some experts trotted out by leftist news outlets claimed that the wiretapping of his phones and interception of his emails suggests that the federal government already has serious evidence of wrongdoing on the part of the lawyer.
However, it’s clear to anyone who’s paying attention to the ongoing Mueller debacle that all it takes to get a wiretapping warrant approved in front of a FISA court is one-sided information and unsubstantiated claims.
Furthermore, due to the legal concept of executive privilege and the generally guarded and secured nature of communications with the President of the United States of America, there is question as to the legality of bugging phones likely to contact the President.
How the Cohen investigation plays out will likely have a large impact on the Mueller investigation into alleged Russian collusion. At this point, it doesn’t seem likely there will be any proof of such collusion, though.