President Donald Trump feels the Russia special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation has "gone too far" after the FBI seized documents Monday in a raid on the offices of his longtime private attorney Michael Cohen, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday.
"The president is clear that he feels it's gone too far," Sanders told reporters at the daily briefing.
Sanders reiterated Trump's outrage over the probe — calling it a "witch hunt" —and slammed Mueller's efforts as "a big distraction" by the media.
"The president certainly has been very clear about what his position is when it comes to matters of collusion — and that's what his reference is," she said. "He thinks this entire thing is a witch hunt.
"We've spoken about this at length, ad nauseam, and I frankly think it's a big distraction that the media has spent every single day for the last year focused this instead of some of the biggest issues of the day."
Federal agents raided Cohen's office Monday in Manhattan, seizing records on topics including a $130,000 payment made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels.
A furious Trump, who in the last month has escalated his attacks on Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, took to Twitter — ripping the move as a "disgrace" and saying the FBI "broke into" his lawyer's office.
He called Mueller's investigation "an attack on our country," prompting new speculation he might seek the removal of the Justice Department's special counsel.
The raid was overseen by the U.S. Attorney's office in Manhattan and was based in part on a referral from Mueller, said Cohen's lawyer, Stephen Ryan.
The New York Times reported Monday that federal prosecutors in Manhattan obtained the search warrant after Mueller's investigators sent a referral.
Further, the search "does not appear to be directly related to Mr. Mueller's investigation, but likely resulted from information he had uncovered and gave" to prosecutors, according to the Times.
In addition, the newspaper disclosed Tuesday that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein personally approved the FBI raid — and ABC News reported he approved the recusal from the Cohen case of Geoffrey Berman, the interim U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, which had jurisdiction.
Trump named Berman to the interim post in January.
Sanders declined to speculate to reporters on the process leading to the warrants being issued for the Cohen raid, referring questions to the Justice Department, though she said: "Certainly, the president voiced his frustrations."
She added she was not sure whether Cohen still represented Trump — "I'd refer you to Michael Cohen on that" — and said the president still believed he had the authority to fire Mueller.
"I know a number of individuals in the legal community, and including at the Department of Justice said he has the power to do so.
"We've been advised that the president certainly has the power to make that decision," she reiterated. "I can't go beyond that."
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