President Donald Trump on Monday responded to the FBI raids on his personal lawyer Michael Cohen’s office, home and hotel room, calling the raids “disgraceful” and “a whole new level of unfairness.”
“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,” Trump told reporters at the start of a meeting in the White House with Vice President Mike Pence, top military brass and national security advisers.
In fact, Cohen’s own lawyer acknowledged in a statement that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York had “executed a series of search warrants,” which would have to be approved by a federal judge.
“It’s a total witch hunt,” Trump continued. “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.”
“I have this witch hunt constantly going on for over 12 months now,” Trump said, adding: “It’s an attack on our country, in a true sense. It’s an attack on what we all stand for.”
Trump called Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office “the most conflicted group of people I have ever seen” and complained, as he often has, about Attorney General Jeff Sessions recusing himself from Russia- and campaign-related matters.
“He should have certainly let us know if he was going to recuse himself and we would have put a different attorney general in,” Trump said of Sessions. “So he made what I consider to be a very terrible mistake for the country.”
Trump complained that no one “is looking at the other side,” a reference to Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.
After concluding his comments, Trump listened to reporters’ shouted questions and repeated one: “Why don’t I just fire Mueller?” he wondered aloud.
“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,” he continued. “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 all about that. Deputy Rosenstein, Rod Rosenstein, he wrote the letter very critical of Comey.”
That’s a reference to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s letter to Trump criticizing former FBI Director James Comey’s handling of the Clinton email server probe. Rosenstein later acknowledged that he found out Trump would fire Comey before writing the letter, and Trump himself has said he would have fired Comey regardless of Rosenstein’s letter.
“I fired Comey,” Trump continued. “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 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 is 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.”
Trump has referenced the text message about an “insurance policy” between FBI Agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page, both of whom were once members of Mueller’s team, before. In January he called it a “treasonous act.”
Rosenstein, as Trump said, did sign off on an application to surveil former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
“So we’ll see what happens,” Trump said, before concluding by again calling the probe a “witch hunt.”
Watch part of the President’s remarks below:
Trump comments responding to Cohen Raid pic.twitter.com/vNhZGsqCv5
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) April 9, 2018
This post has been updated.