Trump's personal lawyer Cohen's office raided by FBI amid bank fraud allegations, president calls it an 'attack on our country'
President Donald Trump's longtime personal attorney, Michael Cohen's, office was raided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on Monday night. Cohen has been at the center of the adult-film star Stormy Daniels' hush money payoff for months. Cohen admitted to paying an amount of $130,000 to Daniels in exchange for the star's silence on the alleged affair between Trump and her.
Trump, however, did not take the incident lightly and unloaded on the Justice Department, complaining that the two early-morning raids at Cohen's office was a "disgraceful situation" and an "attack on our country in a true sense," according to the New York Times.
"It's a total witch hunt," Trump said on Monday. "When I saw this, when I heard about it, that is a whole new level of unfairness." It is not yet certain why Cohen was targeted by the investigators, however, his attorney, Stephen Ryan, said that the raids followed a referral from special counsel Robert Mueller.
The Times reported that the raid did not appear to be directly associated with the ongoing Russia probe. Mueller is investigating Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential elections and possible collusion of the Trump campaign with the Russians in an effort to influence a Trump win.
Reports state that Cohen's hotel room was also raided along with his office and multiple business records and emails were seized. The documents seized by the agents also included information associated with Cohen's six-figure payment to Daniels.
The Washington Post reported that Cohen is under investigation for possible bank fraud and campaign finance violations. Trump, while speaking to the reporters, railed against Mueller and Sessions. He said that Mueller's team was "the most biased group of people" which included mostly Democrats and some Republicans who worked for former President Barack Obama.
The president also suggested that he may just fire Mueller by saying "we'll see what happens," adding that many people have advised him to fire the special counsel.
"Why don't I just fire Mueller? Well, I think it's a disgrace what's going on. We'll see what happens," Trump said.
Trump also issued a tirade against his own appointee US Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia probe in March 2017. Sessions' recusal from the case resulted in the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein being in charge of the investigation, who in turn appointed Mueller in May 2017 to lead the Russia probe.
"The attorney general made a terrible mistake when he did this and when [he] recused himself or he certainly should have let us know if he was going to recuse himself and we would have put a different attorney general in," Trump said. "So he made what I consider to be a very terrible mistake for the country. But you'll figure that out."
While Cohen's attorney, Ryan, said that the FBI had seized "privileged communications" between Cohen and his clients and had overstepped its boundaries. Ryan, in a statement, said: "The decision by the U.S. Attorney's Office in New York to conduct their investigation using search warrants is completely inappropriate and unnecessary."
"It resulted in the unnecessary seizure of protected attorney-client communications between a lawyer and his clients. These government tactics are also wrong because Mr. Cohen has cooperated completely with all government entities, including providing thousands of non-privileged documents to the Congress and sitting for depositions under oath," Ryan added.
Cohen is closely associated with President Trump, including several of his businesses and personal matters, including the Daniels payoff. Trump and the White House, however, have denied all the allegations made by Daniels and her lawyer.
The president, in a first acknowledgment of the scandal, last week had said that he did not know anything about Cohen's payment to Daniels. While the president lawyer has claimed that he made the payment out of his personal funds.