Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

A former U.S. attorney helps Axios readers interpret the raid: "Here’s what must have happened: Mueller bumped into evidence of criminal conduct that was beyond his scope, so he referred it to the Rod," Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein.

Why it matters: "HUGELY important:  Stormy is almost certainly just the tip of the iceberg.  Cohen’s lawyer said the [search warrant] was based 'in part' on referral by Mueller. I expect that after getting the initial referral, the SDNY started poking around and developed independent interest for obtaining the SW."

How it likely happened:

  • "Rod had the option of expanding Mueller mandate or sending it to the [U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York] — he sent it to the SDNY."
  • "The SDNY then looked at the evidence, decided to open an investigation, and ultimately decided that Cohen would have documents relevant to the investigation."
  • "The SDNY then decided that Cohen could not be trusted to produce the documents pursuant to subpoena — or else they would’ve just subpoenaed the docs.
  • "So they consulted with DOJ, as required — probably Rod — and obtained a search warrant."
  • "Which meant they had probable cause to believe that a crime was committed and that Cohen had evidence that was fruit, instrument or evidence of the crime."
  • "And with all of what they seized — including electronic evidence — Katie bar the door. Any evidence of any crime they now find is fair game."
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