Videotape of Trump making vulgar comments about women said to be focus of raids on lawyer

US President Donald Trump at an Oval Office meeting in the White House on April 10, 2018.
US President Donald Trump at an Oval Office meeting in the White House on April 10, 2018.PHOTO: NYTIMES

WASHINGTON (NYTIMES) - The FBI agents who raided the office and hotel of President Donald Trump's lawyer, Mr Michael Cohen, were seeking details on his relationship with the Trump campaign and his efforts to suppress negative information about Mr Trump, according to three people briefed on the matter.

Prosecutors are interested in whether Mr Cohen, who had no official role in the 2016 campaign, coordinated with it to quash the release of anything detrimental to it and whether that violated campaign finance laws - a new front in the investigation into Mr Cohen.

The warrant executed on Monday by the agents was striking in its breadth, according to those people.

It demanded documents related to the "Access Hollywood" tape in which Mr Trump was heard making vulgar comments about women, and to other materials related to secret agreements Mr Cohen made with women in exchange for them not speaking publicly about sexual encounters with Mr Trump.

The warrant also covered e-mails and other documents that could reveal Mr Cohen's private communications with Mr Trump during a tense period in the presidential campaign.

And it delved deeply into Mr Cohen's past, including documents about Mr Cohen's personal and business finances.

The additional details the agents were seeking came a day after it was revealed that the authorities sought documents from Mr Cohen related to payments made to two women who claim they had affairs with Mr Trump, Ms Karen McDougal and Ms Stephanie Clifford, the pornographic film star known as Stormy Daniels, as well as information on the role of the publisher of The National Enquirer in silencing the women.

The investigation is being run by Mr Robert Khuzami, a veteran federal prosecutor whose boss, Mr Geoffrey Berman, is the interim US attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Though the raids on Mr Cohen's office and hotel room were overseen by Mr Khuzami, people close to Mr Trump and Mr Cohen regard the investigation as a surreptitious attempt by the special counsel, Mr Robert Mueller, to pry into Mr Trump's personal life by using other prosecutors as his proxy.

Asked for comment on Wednesday, Mr Stephen Ryan, a lawyer for Mr Cohen, referred to his earlier description of the raids as "completely inappropriate and unnecessary".

He has described the raids as an overreach by prosecutors into the privileged communications between Mr Cohen and his client, Mr Trump.