- President Donald Trump slammed the FBI’s raid on the offices of his longtime personal attorney, Michael Cohen.
- He called the latest development a “witch hunt,” and “an attack on our country.”
- Investigators from the US attorney’s office at the Southern District of New York reportedly raided Cohen’s offices after receiving a tip from the special counsel Robert Mueller’s team.
- The revelation indicates Cohen is a subject of interest in two criminal investigations, legal experts said.
President Donald Trump slammed the FBI’s raid on the offices of his longtime personal attorney, Michael Cohen, and called the incident “a disgraceful situation.”
“I have this witch hunt constantly going on,” Trump said during a military leadership meeting, according to a press pool report. “It’s an attack on on our country … what we all stand for.”
Trump also called Cohen a “good man” and labelled the special counsel Robert Mueller’s team as “the most conflicted group of people I have ever seen.”
Trump has frequently raised doubts about the nature of the Russia investigation, calling the inquiry a politically-motivated “witch hunt” and a “hoax.” He also accused Mueller’s team of consisting of prosecutors who are biased toward his former presidential rival, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Though the president previously said he was “looking forward” to talking with Mueller, he did not discount the possibility of firing the special counsel.
“We’ll see what happens,” Trump said. “Many people have said you should fire him. Again, they found nothing and in finding nothing that’s a big statement …”
It’s not the first time Trump has floated the possibility of firing Mueller. Earlier this year, The New York Times reported that Trump ordered the White House counsel, Don McGahn, to fire Mueller last June but only backed off when McGahn threatened to resign.
Trump has also launched repeated criticisms at Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who recused himself from the Russia investigation last year.
Armed with a search warrant, the FBI raided Cohen’s Manhattan office after a tip from the special counsel, according to The Times. The agency reportedly gather records on various topics, such as the $US130,000 non-disclosure payment Cohen made the adult film actress Stormy Daniels shortly before the 2016 US presidential election. Investigators also seized a computer, phone, personal financial records, and attorney-client communications.
Cohen is under investigation for possible bank fraud and violations of election law, according to a later report from The Washington Post.
Mueller reportedly informed deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein of information he had uncovered regarding Cohen, and Rosenstein then decided that the matter should be handled by the US Attorney’s office at the Southern District of New York, Bloomberg reported.
Cohen is already a subject of scrutiny in Mueller’s investigation, which is examining Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and whether members of the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow to tilt the race in Trump’s favour. That Monday’s raid was carried out by the SDNY suggests the president’s personal lawyer is a person of interest in a second criminal inquiry, legal experts said.
Moreover, the fact that investigators raided Cohen’s offices and seizued relevant materials, instead of issuing a subpoena, also indicates that they had reason to believe Cohen might hide or destroy evidence, former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti wrote on Twitter.
Allan Smith contributed reporting.
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