NEW YORK, N.Y. (NEW YORK TIMES)- The F.B.I. agents who raided the office and hotel of President Trump’s lawyer on Monday were seeking all records related to the “Access Hollywood” tape in which Mr. Trump was heard making vulgar comments about women, according to three people who have been briefed on the contents of a federal search warrant.
The search warrant also sought evidence of whether the lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, tried to suppress damaging information about Mr. Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.
It is not clear what role, if any, Mr. Cohen played regarding the tape, which was made public a month before the election. But the fact that the agents were seeking documents related to the tape reveals a new front in the investigation into Mr. Cohen that is being led by the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan.
The disclosure comes a day after it was revealed that the authorities also sought documents from Mr. Cohen related to payments made to two women who claim they had affairs with Mr. Trump, Karen McDougal and Stephanie Clifford, as well as information on the role of the publisher of The National Enquirer in silencing the women.
The new details from the warrant reveal that prosecutors are keenly interested in Mr. Cohen’s unofficial role in the Trump campaign. And they help explain why Mr. Trump was furious about the raid. People close to Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen regard the warrant as an attempt by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, to pry into Mr. Trump’s personal life — using other prosecutors as his proxy.
Mr. Mueller’s spokesman declined to comment.
Stephen Ryan, a lawyer for Mr. Cohen, referred to his earlier description of the raid as “completely inappropriate and unnecessary.” He has described it as an overreach by prosecutors into the privileged communications between Mr. Cohen and his client, Mr. Trump.
Mr. Cohen served as part fixer, part attack dog for Mr. Trump. He has acknowledged paying $130,000 to Ms. Clifford, a pornographic film actress known as Stormy Daniels, who said she had a sexual encounter with Mr. Trump. She signed a nondisclosure agreement, promising not to discuss the matter. Agents also sought documents related to deals with other women.
Federal prosecutors are investigating Mr. Cohen for possible bank fraud, but they are also scrutinizing whether these efforts amounted to improper campaign donations to Mr. Trump.
Mr. Trump, who had been planning to make a decision this week about whether to sit down with the special counsel for an interview, has taken a more adversarial tone toward Mr. Mueller since the warrant was executed on Monday. Although he had said for months that he wanted to be questioned by Mr. Mueller, his stance has changed since Monday, and the prospect of him willingly being questioned is far less likely, according to two people briefed on the matter.
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