President Donald Trump's confidants see the criminal investigation into Michael Cohen as a bigger threat to Trump than the special counsel investigation, The New York Times reported Friday, citing several people close to the President.
In response to Cohen's motion to prevent prosecutors from using evidence collected in Monday's raids of his home and office, the U.S. attorney in NY asserted the raids were authorized by a federal judge to seek evidence of conduct "for which Cohen is under criminal investigation".
Judge Wood delayed until Monday a hearing in which Cohen's attorneys will argue for a restraining order to temporarily ban federal prosecutors from inspecting the records.
A U.S. District Judge on Friday reluctantly agreed to give attorneys for Michael Cohen an extension to provide evidence bolstering their claim that much of the information seized from Cohen by federal agents Monday is protected by attorney-client privilege.
The filing, signed by acting U.S. Attorney Robert Khuzami in the Southern District of NY, also says that while the current investigation was referred by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, the NY investigation "has proceeded independent" of Mueller's work. The latter, has alleged that she had sex once in 2006 with Trump and was paid money shortly before the 2016 USA presidential election to keep quiet about it.
They were there to argue that they should get to review the documents seized from Cohen's office, apartment and hotel room this week before federal prosecutors do so.
Investigators were also looking into whether there was a broader pattern of tax fraud, wire fraud, tax evasion, money laundering and other crimes in Cohen's private dealings, including his work for Trump and some real estate transactions that involved Russian buyers and prices that appeared to be well above market values, the source said.
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"We're pretty confident there are thousands of privileged communications", Cohen's lawyer Todd Harrison told the judge. Sources told ABC News that investigators were also searching for records of any discussions Cohen held about the infamous "Access Hollywood" tape released in October 2016 in which Trump can be heard bragging to host Billy Bush in 2005 that "when you're a star" women let men "do anything", including "grab them by the p--".
"The government is investigating whether there was, in connection with Trump's White House bid, a conspiracy to commit fraud and extortion for the objective of silencing potentially compromising sources - specifically, people in a position to portray Donald Trump as a womanizer", McCarthy, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, said.
As their attorneys were in court, Trump reportedly called Cohen to "check in". "... He is the President of the United States".
The judge in the suit had given Cohen until Friday evening to formally request the stay.
Mr Cohen and Mr Davidson did not immediate respond to requests for comment.
"His attorney-client privilege is no stronger than any other person who seeks legal advice", McCay said.
In their search Monday, investigators also sought to obtain records relating to Cohen's ownership of taxi medallions, high-value assets that are often used as collateral for loans, according to people familiar with the matter.