FBI raid of Michael Cohen's office sought info on 'Access Hollywood' tape

The FBI was seeking information about the "Access Hollywood" tape in which Donald Trump was heard making vulgar boasts about women when agents raided the office and hotel of his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, on Monday, according to a person with knowledge of the raid.

The bureau’s interest in matters related to the 2006 "Access Hollywood" tape, on which Trump bragged to host Billy Bush that he would grab women "by the p---y," was first reported by the New York Times. "Access Hollywood" is an NBC Universal television program.

The search warrant executed on Cohen’s office at Manhattan's Rockefeller Plaza and his temporary residence at the nearby Loews Regency hotel permitted agents to seek and obtain any communications about the tape, including any communications between Trump and Cohen on the subject, according to an individual with knowledge of the warrant.

According to multiple people with knowledge of the search warrant, investigators were also looking for communications and records associated with:

  • A $130,000 transaction between Cohen and adult film star Stormy Daniels, also known as Stephanie Clifford, who allegedly had an affair with Trump more than a decade ago;

  • A reported payment of $150,000 to a second woman who allegedly had an affair with Trump, Playboy model Karen McDougal;

  • Other matters still under seal.

Cohen has said he paid Clifford $130,000 out of his own pocket. Trump has denied the affair and said he had no knowledge of the payment.

Clifford is cooperating with federal investigators looking into the payment, according to multiple sources familiar with the proceedings.

The search of Cohen's office was not the work of Mueller's prosecutors but involved a matter his team came across and passed on to the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan because it did not fall under the team's mandate to investigate Russian meddling in the election.

Cohen's lawyer, Stephen Ryan, said the court-ordered search warrants were "completely inappropriate and unnecessary" and resulted in the seizure of material protected by attorney-client privilege.

"Mr. Cohen has cooperated completely with all government entities, including providing thousands of nonprivileged documents to the Congress and sitting for depositions under oath," Ryan said.