President Trump continued to fume on Twitter early Tuesday about the FBI raid on the office and hotel of his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, after federal agents reportedly seized information related to Cohen’s hush-money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels.
The FBI raids were carried out on a referral from special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia.
George Conway — a lawyer and husband to Trump aide Kellyanne Conway — pointed out that the law allows for search warrants to be issued when an attorney is a subject of an investigation. According to the Washington Post, Cohen is under federal investigation for “possible bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations.”
Trump also returned to his oft-used phrase to describe Mueller’s probe.
A TOTAL WITCH HUNT!!!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 10, 2018
Cohen recently admitted to facilitating a $130,000 payment to Daniels on the eve of the 2016 presidential election. At the time, Daniels accepted the money in exchange for not going public with her claim of having sex with Trump in 2006. Cohen insists the payment was legal and that he was not reimbursed by the Trump Organization or the Trump campaign, though some legal experts say the payment may have violated campaign finance law.
But Trump appears staunchly in the corner of Cohen, one of his closest allies. Before a meeting of military officials at the White House early Monday evening, Trump addressed the raids without being prompted by reporters — launching into a five-minute monologue condemning them.
“So, I just heard that they broke into the office of one of my personal attorneys, a good man, and it’s a disgraceful situation,” Trump began. “It’s a total witch hunt. I’ve been saying it for a long time.”
“Here we are talking about Syria and we’re talking about a lot of serious things,” the president continued. “We’re the greatest fighting force ever. And I have this witch hunt constantly going on for over 12 months now — and actually, much more than that. You could say it was right after I won the nomination, it started. And it’s a disgrace. It’s frankly a real disgrace. It’s an attack on our country, in a true sense. It’s an attack on what we all stand for.
Trump added: “When I saw this and when I heard it — I heard it like you did — I said, that is really now on a whole new level of unfairness.”
Mueller was appointed special counsel 11 months ago after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, who had been overseeing the investigation. At the time, Trump declared it the “single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!”
At the White House on Monday, Trump was asked by reporters why he doesn’t “just fire” Mueller. The president could take steps to remove the special counsel, but would need the backing of Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general. It’s believed that Rosenstein, who reportedly threatened to quit because of the way the Comey dismissal was handled, would not back such a move.
“Well, I think it’s a disgrace what’s going on. We’ll see what happens. But I think it’s really a sad situation when you look at what happened. And many people have said, ‘You should fire him,’” Trump said. “So we’ll see what happens. I think it’s disgraceful, and so does a lot of other people. This is a pure and simple witch hunt.”
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, told CNN on Tuesday that “it would be suicide” for Trump to fire Mueller.
“I think the less the president says about this whole thing, the better off he will be,” Grassley added. “And I think Mueller is a person of stature and respected and I respect him.”
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(Cover photo credit: Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP, Evan Vucci/AP, Seth Wenig/AP)