Donald Trump lashed out at his own Justice Department on Tuesday morning, following FBI raids on his longtime personal lawyer’s offices, home and hotel.
‘Attorney–client privilege is dead!’ Trump tweeted.
‘A TOTAL WITCH HUNT!’
The White House has yet to formulate a strategy for dealing with the fallout of an apparent criminal investigation of Michael Cohen by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
Trump, according to one White House official who spoke with DailyMail.com on Monday night, is most angry about what he thought was an impenetrable barrier: the decades-old secrecy between Cohen and himself.
His morning television habits typically revolve around the ‘Fox & Friends’ broadcast, and Tuesday morning the program replayed portions of a Monday night interview with famed Harvard lawyer Alan Dershowitz – a Democratic lion and Hillary Clinton voter who has rushed to Trump’s side on technical questions of law.
‘This may be an attempt to squeeze Cohen – he’s the lawyer, he’s the guy who knows all the facts about Donald Trump – and to get him to turn against his client,’ Dershowitz said in the clip.
‘This is a very dangerous day today for lawyer-client relations.’
‘If this were Hillary Clinton [having her lawyer’s office raided], the ACLU would be on every TV station in America jumping up and down,’ Dershowitz protested.
‘The deafening silence of the ACLU and civil libertarians about the intrusion into the lawyer-client confidentiality is really appalling.’
Illinois Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger said Tuesday morning on CNN’s ‘New Day’ program that the Cohen raid ‘is not an attack on our country.’
Asked about Trump’s morning Twitter tantrum, he responded: ‘I don’t think it’s helpful at all. Whenever you tweet, there can be trouble.’
Rep. Jim Himes, a Connecticut Democrat who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, said on the same show minutes later that Trump is wrong to paint the long special counsel saga’s latest developments as a liberal conspiracy.
‘The individual who led this raid yesterday was a recent Trump appointee,’ he pointed out.
‘To say that this is a witch hunt, to say that they’ve found nothing is to be completely unhinged, to be completely at odds with reality.’
Americans on Tuesday saw a rare instance of a president flying off the handle, as reporters filed into the West Wing barely an hour after news of the raids hit the Internet.
‘It’s a disgrace. It’s frankly a real disgrace,’ Trump said before a meeting with his top military advisers. ‘It’s an attack on our country, in a true sense. It’s an attack on what we all stand for.’
‘So 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”.’
‘This is a pure and simple witch hunt,’ Trump added moments later.
When FBI agents swooped in on Cohen’s office Monday they seized a trove of documents related to the Stormy Daniels case and communications between the attorney and the president, in a dramatic escalation of Robert Mueller’s special counsel probe.
They took his phone, personal computer and bank records – and Cohen is now under a microscope for both possible bank fraud and campaign finance violations.
This indicates that Cohen is being investigated for using a home equity line of credit to borrow the $130,000 he paid Daniels, a porn star whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.
If Cohen did in fact lie to obtain credit from a ‘federally insured financial institution,’ he could be charged with a felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
And if the payment is found to be an ‘in-kind contribution’ to Trump’s campaign, as it came just days before the election, Cohen could be facing a second felony.
Violating campaign contribution limits is punishable by up to five years in prison.
The raid did immediately raise the issue of attorney-client privilege. Cohen was Trump’s personal lawyer during the presidential campaign, which means their communications are assumed to be beyond the reach of law enforcement and the courts.
A critical loophole exists, however: the ‘crime-fraud exception.’ That allows prosecutors to use privileged material if it shows a client intended to further or cover up a crime.
Because of the usually sacrosanct nature of attorney-client communications, the FBI will likely use a ‘taint team’ to keep prosecutors from seeing anything privileged that could later cause a criminal conviction to be voided.
Michael Avenatti, the attorney representing Daniels, tweeted a response on Tuesday to the president’s view that the attorney-client privilege is being trampled.
‘I use the attorney-client privilege. I know the attorney-client privilege. The attorney-client privilege is a friend of mine. And the attorney-client privilege is not dead. What is dead is using the privilege to hide illegal acts. And that has been dead for a long time,’ Avenatti wrote.
The president on Monday also called Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators ‘the most conflicted group of people I have ever seen.’
‘This is the most biased group of people. These people have the biggest conflicts of interest I’ve ever seen. Democrats all, just about all,’ Trump said, although Mueller himself is a Republican.
The raid appears most likely to be related to Cohen’s $130,000 payment to Daniels, a porn star who claims she had a torrid affair with Trump 11 years ago, days before the election. But the FBI, Mueller, the Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney have all declined to comment.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller is overseeing a probe of contacts between Russians and the Trump campaign, but the investigation has now gone far afield.
CNN reported that President Trump had watched TV broadcasts of the FBI raid on his longtime personal attorney – and that he knew about the raid before the news came out.
Daniels is suing to have a nondisclosure agreement she and Cohen signed voided whereby she agreed not to disclose any details of a relationship with Trump.
Cohen says he made the payment with his own funds and without Trump’s knowledge.
Bank records have revealed he set up a Delaware LLC called Essential Solutions just weeks before the payment was made to Daniels from the LLC.
The LLC was set up on October 17, 2016, the same day that Daniels’ manager Gina Rodriguez was reportedly trying to sell the porn star’s story to the media.
Some 10 days later, Essential Solutions paid Daniels $130,000 after she signed an agreement not to talk about Trump.
The agreement used pseudonyms — David Dennison for Trump and Peggy Peterson for Daniels.
Agents seized tax documents and business records as they raided the Loews Regency hotel on Park Avenue where Cohen had been staying, and his office in 30 Rockefeller Plaza, just above NBC’s studios.
The raid comes just days after Trump made his first comments about Daniels aboard Air Force One – and denied any advance knowledge of the payment that appeared to benefit him and his campaign just days before the 2016 election.
Asked why Cohen made the payment, Trump said: ‘Michael is my attorney. You’ll have to ask Michael.’
Then, asked by reporters on Air Force One if he knew where the money came from, Trump said: ‘No, I don’t know.’
Every word of Trump’s rant after Mueller’s FBI agents raided his personal lawyer in probe
Here is every word of what President Donald Trump said as released in a White House transcript:
THE PRESIDENT: 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. It’s a total witch hunt. I’ve been saying it for a long time. I’ve wanted to keep it down.
We’ve given, I believe, over a million pages’ worth of documents to the Special Counsel.
They continue to just go forward. And here we are talking about Syria and we’re talking about a lot of serious things.
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.
So 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.
So this has been going on – I saw one of the reporters, who is not necessarily a fan of mine, not necessarily very good to me.
He said, in effect, that this is ridiculous; this is now getting ridiculous. They found no collusion whatsoever with Russia.
The reason they found it is there was no collusion at all. No collusion. This is the most biased group of people.
These people have the biggest conflicts of interest I’ve ever seen.
Democrats all – or just about all – either Democrats or a couple of Republicans that worked for President Obama, they’re not looking at the other side; they’re not looking at the Hillary Clinton – the horrible things that she did and all of the crimes that were committed.
They’re not looking at all of the things that happened that everybody is very angry about, I can tell you, from the Republican side, and I think even the independent side. 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.
So we’ll be talking about it more. But this is the most conflicted group of people I’ve ever seen.
The Attorney General made a terrible mistake when he did this, and when he recused himself.
Or he should have certainly let us know if he was going to recuse himself, and we would have used a – put a different Attorney General in.
So he made what I consider to be a very terrible mistake for the country. But you’ll figure that out.
All I can say is, after looking for a long period of time – and even before the Special Counsel – because it really started just about from the time I won the nomination.
And you look at what took place and what happened, and it’s a disgrace. It’s a disgrace.
I’ve been President now for what seems like a lengthy period of time. We’ve done a fantastic job.
We’ve beaten ISIS. We have just about 100 percent of the caliphate or the land. Our economy is incredible.
The stock market dropped a lot today as soon as they heard the noise of this nonsense that’s going on. It dropped a lot. It was up – way up, and then it dropped quite a bit at the end. A lot.
But that we have to go through that – we’ve had that hanging over us now from the very, very beginning.
And yet the other side, they don’t even bother looking. And the other side is where there are crimes, and those crimes are obvious.
Lies, under oath, all over the place. Emails that are knocked out, that are acid-washed and deleted.
Nobody has ever seen – 33,000 emails are deleted after getting a subpoena for Congress, and nobody bothers looking at that. And many, many other things.
So I just think it’s a disgrace that a thing like this can happen. With all of that being said, we are here to discuss Syria tonight.
We’re the greatest fighting force anywhere in the world. These gentlemen and ladies are incredible people, incredible talent, and we’re making a decision as to what we do with respect to the horrible attack that was made near Damascus.
And it will be met, and it will be met forcefully. And when, I will not say, because I don’t like talking about the timing.
But we are developing the greatest force that we’ve ever had. We had $700 billion just approved, which was the reason I went along with that budget because we had to fix our military.
General Mattis would tell you that above anybody. We had to fix our military. And right now, we’re in a big process of doing that. Seven-hundred billion and then $716 billion next year.
So we’re going to make a decision tonight, or very shortly thereafter. And you’ll be hearing the decision.
But we can’t let atrocities like we all witnessed – and you can see that and it’s horrible – we can’t let that happen. In our world, we can’t let that happen, especially when we’re able to – because of the power of the United States, because of the power of our country – we’re able to stop it.
I want to thank Ambassador John Bolton for joining us. I think he’s going to be a fantastic representative of our team.
He’s highly respected by everybody in this room. And, John, I want to thank you very much. This is going to be a lot of work. Interesting day. He picked today as his first day.
So, Generals, I think he picked the right day. But certainly, you’re going to find it very exciting. But you are going to do a fantastic job and I appreciate you joining.
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Thank you. It’s an honor to be here.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thank you all very much.
Q Are you concerned about what the FBI might find, Mr. President? Do you have any concern?
THE PRESIDENT: No, I’m not.
Q Why don’t you just fire Mueller?
THE PRESIDENT: Why don’t I just fire Mueller?
Q Yeah, just fire the guy.
THE PRESIDENT: 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.’ Again, they found nothing. And in finding nothing, that’s a big statement.
If you know the person who’s in charge of the investigation, you know about that. Deputy Rosenstein – Rod Rosenstein – he wrote the letter, very critical, of Comey.
One of the things they said: ‘I fired Comey.’
Well, I turned out to do the right thing, because if you look at all of the things that he’s done and the lies, and you look at what’s gone on at the FBI with the insurance policy and all of the things that happened – turned out I did the right thing.
But he signed – as you know, he also signed the FISA warrant. So Rod Rosenstein, who’s in charge of this, signed a FISA warrant, and he also signed a letter that was essentially saying to fire James Comey. And he was right about that. He was absolutely right.
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.
Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank all very much.
Q Any more clarity on who was responsible, sir?
THE PRESIDENT: Say it again?
Q Any more clarity on who was responsible for the chemical weapons attack?
THE PRESIDENT: We are getting clarity on that – who was responsible for the weapons attack. We are getting some very good clarity, actually. We have some pretty good answers.
Q What are your options?
THE PRESIDENT: We have a lot of options, militarily. And we’ll be letting you know pretty soon. Probably after the fact.
Thank you all very much.
SOURCE: Daily Mail – David Martosko