Trump Denounces F.B.I. Raid on His Lawyer’s Office as ‘Attack on Our Country’
The president railed against Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, for recusing himself in the Russia investigation, and he blasted the F.B.I. for failing to investigate Hillary Clinton, “where there are crimes.” He also lashed out at Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, who is overseeing the Russia investigation.
Mr. Trump delivered the emotional tirade hours after federal officials raided Mr. Cohen’s office and hotel room, seizing business records, emails and documents, including information related to a payment that Mr. Cohen made to a pornographic film actress.
The raids were in part the result of a referral to federal officials by Mr. Mueller. Mr. Trump called Mr. Mueller’s team “the most biased group of people” and said that it contained mostly Democrats and some Republicans who worked for President Barack Obama.
“That is really now in a whole new level of unfairness,” Mr. Trump said of the raids involving Mr. Cohen. Officials said the White House learned about the raids from Mr. Cohen’s lawyer after they were carried out but before they became public knowledge.
Mr. Trump has long complained that the Russia inquiry was a politically motivated attempt to undermine the legitimacy of his election victory. And he has been highly critical of Mr. Sessions and the F.B.I. for failing to adequately investigate Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private email server.
But the aggressive move by federal officials against Mr. Cohen, the president’s longtime personal lawyer, appeared to strike a particularly sensitive nerve. Mr. Cohen, who works for Mr. Trump’s private company, has long been considered one of the president’s closest business confidants.
Mr. Trump reacted to the raids without any prompting from reporters, who had been brought into the Cabinet Room where the president was meeting with Jim Mattis, the secretary of defense; John R. Bolton, the new national security adviser; and other military officials to discuss the situation in Syria. As the cameras began rolling, Mr. Trump immediately condemned the actions against Mr. Cohen.
“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,” he said. “It’s a total witch hunt. I’ve been saying it for a long time. I’ve wanted to keep it down.”
It was unclear what Mr. Trump meant by saying he “wanted to keep it down.” He went on to criticize Mr. Mueller’s team for examining the president’s associates.
“They only keep looking at us. So they find no collusion, and then they go from there and they say, ‘Well, let’s keep going,’ and they raid an office of a personal attorney early in the morning, and I think it’s a disgrace,” Mr. Trump said.
The president also defended his decision to fire James B. Comey as F.B.I. director, saying that “I turned out to do the right thing because you look at all of the things that he’s done and the lies and you look at what’s gone on at the F.B.I.”
He criticized Mr. Rosenstein for having “signed a FISA warrant,” apparently a reference to the role Mr. Rosenstein played in authorizing the wiretap of a Trump associate in the Russia inquiry. Republicans have been highly critical of the warrant, saying the F.B.I. persuaded judges to authorize it on false pretenses.
The president’s suggestion that he might fire Mr. Mueller drew swift condemnations from Capitol Hill, where Democrats and Republicans alike have warned that doing so would cross a dangerous political and legal line.
“If the president is thinking of using this raid to fire Special Counsel Mueller or otherwise interfere with the chain of command in the Russia probe, we Democrats have one simple message for him: Don’t,” said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader.
“Special Counsel Mueller, a Republican, has uncovered a deep and detailed pattern of Russian interference in our elections that has led to indictments and guilty pleas,” Mr. Schumer added. “It has also led to the Trump administration itself leveling sanctions against Russian individuals for meddling in our elections, proof that it’s not a so-called witch hunt.”
News credit : Nytimes