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The FBI raid on Michael Cohen's office and Trump's reliance on individual Jews

The talk in New York is of how Trump's advisor pool comes despite not distancing himself from the alt-right

    Donald Trump speaking to the press before a meeting with military leadership in the White House on Monday
    Donald Trump speaking to the press before a meeting with military leadership in the White House on Monday (Photo: PA)

    One recurring topic of conversation among New York Jews is that strange discrepancy between President Trump’s apparent inability to distance himself from the alt-right — in essence, American neo-Nazis — and his longstanding and continued reliance on individual Jews.

    One case in point is Michael Cohen, an attorney who has served Trump and his businesses in various ways.

    Mr Cohen has been instrumental in the legal issues swirling around the alleged sexual relationship between Mr Trump and the adult actress Stephanie Clifford, who is better known by her nom de porn Stormy Daniels.

    In 2016, she was paid $130,000 (£91,800) in hush money.

    In February of this year, Mr Cohen claimed to have paid the money out of his own pocket.

    The impetus for the claim seems to be less about distancing Trump from a politically damaging sexual peccadillo than about violating campaign finance laws: if Mr Cohen was never reimbursed the $130,000, it could be seen as a campaign contribution.

    But he may now have deeper problems.

    On Monday, FBI agents raided Michael Cohen’s home and New York City office, seizing records about Cohen’s clients and personal finances.

    The FBI raid is not directly involved with Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation into the possibility of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

    According to the Washington Post, the impetus for the raid was information that the Mueller investigation passed on to federal prosecutors based in New York State.

    In addition to campaign violations, the federal investigation is reported to involve possible bank and wire fraud.

    But it is telling that the sources for these accusations are anonymous. While it is certainly possible that Mr Cohen committed these crimes, it also is possible that the Mueller investigation is using the FBI to pressure him to serve as a witness against Mr Trump.

    The FBI raid and the scrutiny on Mr Cohen is yet one more reminder of how ill prepared Mr Trump and his colleagues are for the exigencies of higher office.

    In 2015, the Daily Beast investigated rape allegations that the president’s ex-wife Ivana Trump made against Donald Trump.

    Mr Cohen incorrectly insisted that “You cannot rape your spouse” and proceeded to threaten the reporter.

    “You write a story that has Mr. Trump’s name in it, with the word ‘rape,’ and I’m going to mess your life up… for as long as you’re on this frickin’ planet.”

    The president’s response to the Cohen raid was in the same vein: Mr Trump complained that the raid was “disgusting” and “a whole new level of unfairness.”

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