For Dummies: Understanding The Raid of Trump's Lawyer, Michael Cohen
On Monday, April 9th, the FBI raided both the hotel room and the office of Michael Cohen, President Trump's personal attorney. The FBI seized dozens of documents that indicated communication between Cohen, Trump and clients such as porn star, Stormy Daniels, who was paid $130,000 to keep hush about an affair she and Trump had in the early 2000's.
Client privilege is exactly what it sounds like: the right of an attorney and his or her client to keep their communications private. The duo cannot be forced to disclose any communications when the client is seeking or receiving legal advice from the attorney. This allows the client to be totally open and honest with their lawyer, without fear of exposure. It's quite similar to the patient-doctor relation--your therapist cannot reveal your information.
But just like how a therapist can reveal your information if they think you are a harm to yourself, there is a loophole among the client privilege rule as well. The exception is called the crime-fraud exception.
If the communication between the attorney and client is claimed to be "in furtherance of a current or a planned crime or fraud" then the client privilege no longer applies. If their relationship is covering up an ongoing criminal act or a planned criminal act, the client privilege is lost.
In the case of Trump and Cohen, the court ruled that the two were in cahoots to cover up a crime. That crime would be the $130,000 hush money paid to porn star Stormy Daniels through Essential Consultants, a limited liability corporation that Cohen set up in Delaware only three weeks prior to the 2016 election.
Either way, it's a lose-lose battle. If Cohen and Trump claim that Trump agreed to pay the $130,000, then their communication is privileged and they are protected. However, that would mean Trump is admitting to having an affair with a porn star. Yikes.
If Trump claims that he was completely unaware of the $130,000 and denies relations with Daniels, then any communications between him and Cohen regarding Daniels would make it an unprivileged case, proving they hid a crime. Cohen will most likely go to prison.
Many argue that this raid is an infringement of privacy, driven by the Deep State that will do anything to remove Trump from office. The FBI did have a search warrant issued by the court, meaning, the court believed there was crime-fraud... but again, who was sitting in the court? Did they truly believe Cohen and Trump were hiding a crime, or were they influenced by the looming power of the Deep State?
This raid has proven that one is safe. Not even the President of the United States.