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Anxiety grows for Trump after raid on his personal lawyer

AP  |  Washington 

and his allies have hit a new level of anxiety after the raid on his personal attorney's office, fearful of deeper exposure for Trump, his inner circle and his adult children and more than concerned that they don't know exactly what is in those records and seized last week.

There is also some worry that Michael Cohen, the self-described legal fixer who helped make bad stories go away and took a leading role in projects in foreign outposts, may strike a deal with prosecutors out of concern about his own prospects.

"I think it's a huge minefield for and the Trump Organisation," said trial Joseph Cammarata, who represented in her sexual harassment suit against

"I think this is on its own track and this train is coming down the track with brute force." The wild legal show continued to play out Monday, at a court hearing in before a who is considering what to do with the material that the FBI seized from Cohen.

The scene was punctuated by dramatic entrances and revelations. Stormy Daniels the who alleged she had a sexual affair with the made an appearance, stumbling on her high heels as she was swarmed by press. Cohen was forced to reveal that another one of his clients is host Sean Hannity, a high-profile confidant of the president.

Trump left the for Florida, for a two-day summit with Japanese at the president's Mar-a-Lago estate. Advisers are hoping the meeting will draw attention from the legal tempest in and

On the trip south, sought to put distance between Trump and Cohen, saying: "I believe they've still got some ongoing things, but the president has a large number of attorneys, as you know."

The federal raid, carried out a week ago in City, sought bank records, information on Cohen's dealing in the taxi industry, Cohen's communications with the Trump campaign and information on payments he made in 2016 to former Playboy and to Daniels, both of whom allege relationships with Trump. The court proceedings Monday dealt with who gets to look at Cohen's seized documents and devices before they are turned over to prosecutors.

Though Cohen once said he "would take a bullet" for Trump, he is aware of the possible outcome including potential prison time and has expressed worry about his family, said a person who has spoken to the in recent days but is not authorized to discuss private conversations. Cohen has not been charged with anything.

Trump's moods have grown darker in recent days, as he lashes out at the "overreach" of the raid. Further angering the president is that the raid was triggered in part by a referral from special Robert Mueller, who is looking into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. The raid was authorized by the U.S. for the Southern District of New York.

On Sunday, Trump said that all lawyers are now "deflated and concerned" by the FBI raid on Cohen, adding that "Client privilege is now a thing of the past." Trump has also taken to downplaying Cohen's role.

The president also inveighed further against former FBI James Comey, who said Monday morning that Trump was morally unfit to be president. That was a few hours after Comey said the same and worse in a highly promoted interview.

Many in the view the aftershocks of the Cohen raid as potentially more threatening than Mueller's probe, fearful of what skeletons may be in the lawyer's closets, according to five officials and outside allies who all spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.

"I agree with the consensus forming that it's very dangerous for the president, probably the most serious thing yet," said Sol Wisenberg, a who was a deputy independent during the Starr special investigation into Clinton.

"Even if you shut Mueller down some way, how do you shut down the Southern District (federal court)?" Trump's anger at the probe has intensified, with him musing publicly about firing Mueller and the man who authorized the probe, Those around Trump have hoped that this week's visit to Mar-a-Lago, where he is generally happier, along with the tightly scheduled summit with Abe, would somewhat distract him from Cohen and from Comey's ongoing publicity tour.

But White House aides have also expressed worry that they can control Trump less at his palatial estate, where he is known to seek out counsel from club members and get revved up by their at-times provocative advice. One recent presidential dinner guest was Hannity, a longtime Trump ally whose connection to Cohen shed more light on the attorney who was more than just a for Trump.

Cohen has long been a key power center in and a fixture along the edges of Trump's nascent political life. In Cohen's own estimation, he is Trump's Ray Donovan, the bruising television character who takes whatever steps are needed to fix problems for the tycoon he serves.

He has regularly threatened lawsuits against those who pose a challenge to Trump. He has berated reporters for writing unflattering words about his boss. He has worked with tabloids, including the National Enquirer, to kill unfavorable stories about Trump. He has said he used a home-equity loan to finance a $130,000 payment to Daniels in the final days of the 2016 campaign and did so without Trump's knowledge.

The president has consistently denied a relationship with Daniels, who claims the two had sex not long after gave birth to the couple's son He has also pushed back against other claims from women. A recent Trump fundraising email praised Mrs. Trump, with the president calling her "my rock and foundation.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, April 17 2018. 13:05 IST