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As Trump's legal storms converge in a NY courtroom, he rages against James Comey

Chris Megerian, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON -- All of President Donald Trump's most vexing legal problems seemed to converge in a federal courtroom in Manhattan on Friday.

His longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, was fighting prosecutors' attempts to sift through records -- which could include communications with the president himself -- seized during court-authorized raids earlier in the week.

The U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan revealed in a court filing that Cohen faces a "months-long investigation" into "criminal conduct that largely centers on his personal business dealings." Prosecutors also disclosed that previous search warrants have allowed them to secretly examine Cohen's emails.

The case appears related to hush money paid to women who claim they had sexual affairs with Trump years ago, arrangements that could be considered illegal campaign expenditures because the money was delivered shortly before the election. However, the raids were launched using evidence passed along by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who is leading the investigation into Russian political interference in the 2016 presidential election.

As the investigations into Russian actions and the president's sex scandal collided, Trump raged against a tell-all book by former FBI Director James B. Comey, labeling him an "untruthful slime ball."

In tweets that began early Friday, Trump described Comey, whom he fired in May, as "a proven LEAKER & LIAR."

"It was my great honor to fire James Comey!" he declared.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders also blasted the former FBI director during a press briefing.

"Instead of being remembered as a dedicated servant in the pursuit of justice like so many of his other colleagues at the FBI, Comey will be forever known as a disgraced partisan hack," she said.

The day's events in court, however, seemed only to add evidence to parts of the picture that Comey painted of Trump. In his book, he described Trump's repeated demands for loyalty and said they gave him "flashbacks to my earlier career as a prosecutor against the Mob. The silent circle of assent. The boss in complete control. The loyalty oaths. The us-versus-them worldview."

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