WASHINGTON — Shortly before news became public on Monday of an F.B.I. raid on the hotel room and office of President Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Mr. Trump’s legal team met in Washington to draft a proposal that would allow him to be interviewed by the special counsel in the Russia investigation, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The proposal included details on where and under what circumstances such an interview would occur, as well as the potential length, according to the person briefed on the events. The lawyers planned to raise objections on certain issues, but they were preparing to respond to a longstanding request by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.
As they were going over the proposal, the president’s team learned that the F.B.I. had carried out search warrants at the Rockefeller Center office and Park Avenue hotel room of Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, seizing files, opening a safe and taking electronics.
The prosecutors obtained the warrants after receiving a referral from Mr. Mueller, according to Mr. Cohen’s lawyer. The search does not appear to be directly related to Mr. Mueller’s investigation into possible links between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia’s election interference, but most likely resulted from information that he had uncovered and then gave to prosecutors in New York.
The news of the raid caught them off guard, according to the person briefed on the discussions, undercutting the “fundamental assumptions” that had guided the negotiations. Trust with Mr. Mueller’s team has been “damaged,” the person said.
Mr. Trump’s advisers have considered the search warrants against Mr. Cohen as extensive overreach. That the warrants were handled by the United States attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York suggested to them that Mr. Mueller and his team were using a federal prosecutor’s office as a cover to go after Mr. Trump.
News credit : Nytimes