The New York Times reported that investigators are examining records related to a payment Cohen made to adult film star Stormy Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, in addition to other unspecified topics.
As part of the raid, agents also reportedly stormed Cohen’s room at the Loews Regency on Park Avenue, where he’d been staying. Agents spent “several hours” combing through the hotel room, per Vanity Fair.
Cohen’s lawyer, Stephen Ryan, confirmed to the Times that the search warrant for the raid originated from a referral by special counsel Robert Mueller. It reportedly isn’t directly related to Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference, however.
“The decision by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York to conduct their investigation using search warrants is completely inappropriate and unnecessary,” Ryan said in a statement to NBC.
“It resulted in the unnecessary seizure of protected attorney client communications between a lawyer and his clients,” he added. “These government tactics are also wrong because Mr. Cohen has cooperated completely with all government entities, including providing thousands of non-privileged documents to the Congress and sitting for depositions under oath.”
U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who has been overseeing Mueller’s investigation because Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself, approved of having a team other than Mueller’s carry out the action, Bloomberg reports.
Sources familiar with the investigation told The Washington Post that Cohen is being investigated specifically for bank fraud and possible campaign finance violations.
Cohen said he paid Daniels $130,000 days before the 2016 election, reportedly in exchange for signing a nondisclosure agreement preventing her from speaking publicly about her alleged affair with Trump in 2006. The White House has denied the affair. Last week, Trump said he was unaware of the payment, which has drawn particular scrutiny because it could be seen as a violation of campaign finance laws.
Cohen has been a fiercely loyal adviser to the president. Last September, he told Vanity Fair he’d “take a bullet” for Trump, viewing his role as “the guy who protects the president and the family.”
S.V. Dáte contributed reporting.
This story has been updated with Trump’s response to the FBI raid.