I use the attorney-client privilege. I know the attorney-client privilege. The attorney-client privilege is a friend of mine. And the attorney-client privilege is not dead. What is dead is using the privilege to hide illegal acts. And that has been dead for a long time. #basta
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) April 10, 2018
The New York Times, which was the first to report the search of Cohen’s New York City office, said it involved several other topics besides the Daniels payment. The FBI and federal prosecutors sought and executed the search warrants in coordination with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team.
Several law enforcement officials told NBC News that the case involves a matter that the Mueller team came across, and concluded it does not fall under its mandate and passed it on to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan.
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, has said that Cohen paid her $130,000 in October 2016 — just days before the presidential election — not to talk about what she describes as a one-time sexual encounter with Trump in 2006.
Cohen has tried to put daylight between the president and the porn star, saying that the payment came from his personal funds and the agreement was simply between his company and Daniels. While he has acknowledged making the payment, he has repeatedly declined to tell NBC News what it was for.
Daniels filed a civil lawsuit last month in Los Angeles, alleging that her “hush agreement” is invalid because while both she and Cohen signed it, Trump never did.
In a new court filing Monday, she claimed that she always believed Trump was a party to her non-disclosure agreement and would not have accepted the payment from Cohen if she knew Trump wasn’t going to sign off.
Trump, who has not publicly addressed the alleged relationship, told reporters last week that he was not aware that Cohen paid her and didn’t know where the money came from.
Cohen’s own lawyer, Stephen Ryan, said in a statement Monday that the FBI’s “investigation using search warrants is completely inappropriate and unnecessary.”
Avenatti told “The Beat” that he believes Cohen will be made to take the fall.
“If Michael Cohen has put himself in this position, or the president has put him in this position, a part of me feels sorry for him, frankly,” he said.