The morning after an FBI raid on his personal attorney Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump took to Twitter early Tuesday morning to continue venting his anger about it.
He began by asserting that "attorney-client privilege is dead" and, in a second tweet, again decried the raid as "A TOTAL WITCH HINT!!!"
Trump's reactions have revived fears he might do the unthinkable and fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
In an eight-minute diatribe on Monday that ranked as one of the president’s most vivid public responses to an investigation that has embroiled top aides and allies, Trump blasted the early-morning raid targeting his longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen as “disgraceful” and an “attack on our country.”
Few people outside his family are closer to Trump than Cohen.
The frustration betrayed concern by the president about an inquiry that has now reached deep into his inner circle, and threatened to return focus to the sordid story of a $130,000 payment Cohen made weeks before the 2016 election to a porn actress who said she had an affair with Trump.
His singling out — by name — of top Justice Department officials after the raid raised speculation that he may undertake an historic purge of law enforcement officials, a move that would draw bipartisan condemnation and amplify the stakes of an investigation that is broadening in ways that could imperil the Trump presidency.
“The words that the president chose tonight to describe his feelings about that raid definitely raise the stakes,” former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Monday night in an interview with Fox News.
Trump’s rhetoric was “escalating the situation” and “I don’t think we’ve heard the last of the president’s feelings on this,” he added.
Mueller, meanwhile, appears to be making strategic moves that could help preserve his investigation even if Trump removes him, according to current and former U.S. officials.
Trump entertained an inquiry about firing Mueller as he spoke to reporters before a meeting with military leaders to discuss the situation in Syria. He repeated the question — “Why don’t I just fire Mueller” — and then said “many people” had advised him to do it. He denounced the special counsel’s team as “the most biased group of people,” describing them as mostly Democrats and politically motivated, and added: “We’re going to have more to say about this.”
“I think it’s a disgrace what’s going on, we’ll see what happens,” Trump said.
The president also turned his ire on the two men who stand between him and a bid to disband the Russia investigation.
Trump fumed that Attorney General Jeff Sessions made “a very terrible mistake for the country” in deciding to recuse himself from the Justice Department’s investigation into possible Russian interference in the election. Trump said he would have “put a different attorney general in” had he known Sessions intended to remove himself from oversight of the inquiry.
The president also criticized Sessions’s deputy, Rod Rosenstein, who referred information about Cohen discovered during the special counsel investigation to the U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York, prompting the FBI raid. Trump noted that Rosenstein had signed a warrant to monitor a former Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page, that Republicans have criticized as an abuse of foreign surveillance powers.
Rosenstein last month defended the Mueller probe in an interview with USA Today and said he did not see any justification for ending it. “The special counsel is not an unguided missile,” Rosenstein said.
Other Trump allies suggested another target within the Justice Department: FBI Director Christopher Wray, who was installed after Trump last year fired his predecessor, James Comey, over the Russia investigation.
“Time to fire the FBI Director,” a sometime Trump adviser, Roger Stone, said in a tweet.
Other allies suggested that the Mueller investigation has become undisciplined or even criminal.
“It’s clear Mr. Mueller’s operation has nothing do with fair enforcement of the law or equal justice,” Joseph diGenova, a Washington lawyer who agreed to join the president’s legal team last month before potential conflicts of interest prevented his hiring, said in an appearance on Fox Business Network. “It is basically a bunch of mobsters.”
Congress, he said, should impeach Rosenstein for not complying with an August 2017 subpoena seeking records related to the origin of the investigation into possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia.
But Democrats warned Trump to allow Mueller to continue his work.
“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," the Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said in a statement.
“The investigation is critical to health of our democracy, and must be allowed to continue,” Schumer added.
Mueller appears to be attempting to insulate his investigation from potential interference himself. The Cohen raid is the latest example of this strategy, current and former government officials said. Because it was conducted under the auspices of the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, evidence seized can be shared with Mueller as needed or preserved if the special counsel is removed, the officials said.
Separately, Mueller and his team of 17 prosecutors are in what amounts to hand-to-hand legal combat with Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, whom they indicted for money laundering, conspiracy and tax evasion.
In a legal filing defending the indictment before a federal judge in Washington, Mueller said he has authority to investigate a wide array of crimes as long as he follows Justice Department rules and coordinates his activities with Rosenstein.
“Although a criminal investigation may start with a specific set of facts, the point of investigation is to explore those facts, develop new ones, and continually reassess the direction of the inquiry,” Mueller’s team wrote in an April 2 legal filing with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
Material from Bloomberg News was used in this report.
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.