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Reports: Raid on Trump lawyer Michael Cohen tied to payments to two women, taxi cab medallions

Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, personally signed off on the raids of Cohen's office and residence, NBC News has confirmed.

by Dartunorro Clark /
Michael Cohen, personal attorney for U.S. President Donald Trump, arrives to appear before Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on September 19, 2017.Jonathan Ernst / Reuters file

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The FBI agents who raided the office and hotel room of Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, were looking to seize documents tied to payments to two women who allegedly had affairs with the president, according to reports Tuesday.

The search warrants executed on Monday for documents were related to a $150,000 payment to Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model who said she had an affair with Trump in 2006, according to The New York Times, which first reported the story.

The paper, citing "several people briefed on the investigation," said the payment was made by American Media Inc., which is the parent company of The National Enquirer, which is run by a Trump confidant.

Agents also were looking for documents related to a payment to Stormy Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, who claimed she had an extramarital affair with Trump in 2006, NBC News previously reported. Cohen has said he paid Clifford $130,000 out of his own pocket and had her sign a nondisclosure agreement shortly before the 2016 presidential election that she is now seeking to get out of.

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New York federal prosecutors have also requested documents from the Trump Organization, Trump's family business, for records relating to the payment to Daniels, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

CNN reported on Tuesday that search warrant sought info about payments to the two women and also involved a request for records related to a portfolio of New York City taxi cab medallions that Cohen owns, potentially worth millions.

The FBI and federal prosecutors sought and executed the search warrants Monday in coordination with special counsel Robert Mueller's team.

Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, had personally signed off on Monday's raid, NBC News has confirmed.

In a series of tweets on Tuesday, Trump fumed that that "attorney-client privilege is dead" and said the Mueller investigation is "A TOTAL WITCH HUNT!!!"

A person briefed on the matter told NBC News Tuesday that the appointed U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Geoffrey Berman, was not involved in seeking the search warrant involving Cohen and is not involved in the investigation into him.

Berman was appointed by Trump to take over the Southern District after the president fired Preet Bharara and numerous other U.S. Attorneys last year. Berman has not been nominated and has not been confirmed as U.S. Attorney.

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