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Trump Slams FBI Raid of His Personal Lawyer as a 'Disgrace'. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired April 10, 2018 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They broke into the office of one of my personal attorneys. It's a total witch hunt.
[05:59:03] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What the U.S. attorney's office did was a vindication of the principle that no one is above the law, no one.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president needs to fire Jeff Sessions. He needs to fire Rosenstein. He needs to fire Mueller. This is a sham investigation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bob Mueller should stay. He should be allowed to turn over every rock.
MICHAEL AVENATTI, ATTORNEY FOR STORMY DANIELS: Make no mistake about it. There's going to be a lot of sleepless nights at the White House. Make no mistake about it.
TRUMP: We are very concerned. This is about humanity. It can't be allowed to happen.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I think we need to take some surgical, military action.
REP. RUBEN GALLEGO (D), ARIZONA: Two days ago he's talking about leaving Syria. He needs to calm down, work with his defense advisers to come up with a plan.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Tuesday, April 10, 6 a.m. here in New York. Here's our starting line.
President Trump lashing out after the FBI's raid of his personal attorney, Michael Cohen's, offices calling it a disgrace and a witch hunt. The president falsely claims that his own Justice Department broke into Cohen's office, despite obtaining a lawful search warrant.
And claiming that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation is, quote, "an attack on our country." The feds seizing bank records and communications between Mr. Cohen and the president, including documents related to Stormy Daniels. "The Washington Post" reports that Cohen is being investigated for possibly bank fraud and campaign finance violations.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump was asked about firing Mueller and once again refused to say what he will do. Aiming his ire, instead, at the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein.
All this as the president confronts one of the most difficult decisions a commander in chief must make: the use of military force. President Trump vowing a quick response to the apparent chemical weapons attack in Syria on civilians. The president also warning Vladimir Putin that he will pay a price if Russia was involved. Of course, Congress must have a role in this, and they have yet to speak up about the need to debate. Will they once again punt on their war duties?
Let's begin our coverage with CNN's Abby Phillip, live at the White House -- Abby.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Chris.
Yesterday's event was supposed to be a photo op at a time when President Trump is supposed to be deciding what the U.S. response is going to be to that alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria.
But instead, this whole thing was overshadowed by President Trump's anger at the special counsel, Robert Mueller, after he heard that his personal attorney's office was raided and that that apparently all sent him over the edge.
TRUMP: And it's a disgrace. It's frankly a real disgrace. It's an attack on our country in a true sense.
PHILLIP (voice-over): President Trump boiling over, launching a lengthy tirade against Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation after the FBI raided the office of his long-time personal attorney, Michael Cohen.
TRUMP: So I just heard that they broke into the office of one of my personal attorneys, good man. And it's a disgraceful situation. It's a total witch hunt.
PHILLIP: Flanked by a room full of stern-faced military officials, President Trump falsely claiming the lawful raid was a break-in and attempting to undermine the credibility of Mueller's team, who Cohen's lawyer says referred the case to New York prosecutors.
TRUMP: This is the most biased group of people. These people have the biggest conflicts of interest I've ever seen.
PREET BHARARA, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: The Justice Department are run by his people. The special counsel was appointed by his people. This U.S. attorney is his person, who I'm told he actually met with before appointing him to the position.
PHILLIP: A source tells CNN that approximately a dozen agents carried out Monday's raids on Cohen's office and the New York City hotel where he was staying. Multiple newspapers reporting that Cohen's home was also searched. Sources say that using a broad search warrant, authorities seized bank records and information related to adult film star Stormy Daniels, who Cohen paid $130,000 days before the election, in an attempt to silence her from talking about an alleged affair with President Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?
TRUMP: No, no.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why did Michael Cohen make it, if there was no truth to the allegations?
TRUMP: You have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my -- an attorney. And you'll have to ask Michael Cohen.
PHILLIP: A source tells CNN that communications between Cohen and President Trump were among the records seized. Cohen's lawyer calling the raids inappropriate and unnecessary, insisting that Cohen has cooperated completely with all government entities.
"The Washington Post" reports that Cohen is under federal investigation for possible bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign violations. Daniels' lawyer responding to the FBI raid.
AVENATTI: We have substantial reason to believe that when Michael Cohen opened the bank accounts at First Republic Bank for the purposes of wiring this money that he was not truthful and honest with the bank as to the purpose of those accounts and what they were designed to be used for.
PHILLIP: A source close to the White House tells CNN that the Cohen raid could push the president to take action against the special counsel, or a deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing Mueller's probe.
TRUMP: Why don't I just fire Mueller? 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.
PHILLIP: After learning about the raid earlier in the day from either Cohen or someone in his office, President Trump, a source tells us, met hastily with his attorney, his White House lawyer, Ty Cobb, and also, his chief of staff, John Kelly, to figure out how to respond.
But sources also say that his decision to address it in that meeting with military leaders was one that he made on his own and, importantly, no one really knows what he is going to do next after all of this, Alisyn and Chris.
CAMEROTA: OK, Abby. Thank you very much for setting that up for us. Joining us now to discuss it, we have CNN legal analyst Carrie Cordero and CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
So Jeffrey, tell us how unusual, how hard it is to get a search warrant on the lawyer of a subject of an investigation?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Right. The Justice Department has specific policies with regard to searches of lawyer's offices, because it's complicated to search lawyer's possessions because a lot, not everything, but a lot of what they possess may be covered by the attorney-client privilege, and that could violate the rights of others, as well as -- as well as the lawyer's.
So, you know, the Justice Department is reluctant to search lawyer's offices. So the fact that this was authorized and that a judge, a magistrate judge approved the warrant, suggested that this wasn't some frolic by, you know, Robert Mueller. This was approved, apparently, by Jeff -- Jeffrey Berman, who is the new U.S. attorney in Manhattan.
CAMEROTA: They had to defer it to the southern district of New York?
TOOBIN: You know, to be honest, that's a little unclear to me what the relationship was between the southern district and the Mueller office in this. It appears that Berman had some role and was involved, but who's leading this part of the investigation is a little mysterious to me.
CUOMO: All right. So we have two aspects that are going to be important. First is people will think you can't violate the attorney- client privilege. This can't be allowed. The privilege is not absolute, true?
TOOBIN: The privilege is by no means absolute. It's very narrowly construed. For example, if there is a conversation where a third party is present, under coverage by the privilege, if it's not related to the legal representation it's not -- it's not privileged. So --
CUOMO: And there's the criminal disruptive privilege. If the attorney is deemed by the prosecutors to be part of a potential crime, that can also --
TOOBIN: That's called the crime-fraud exception to the attorney- client privilege.
CUOMO: Right. And then we have the process here, which is that Rosenstein almost certainly had to be involved. Right? He oversees the special counsel, Carrie, and he would be involved in any transfer any type of extension of jurisdiction.
That takes us to who made this call and why was it necessary, because the understanding from Cohen and his attorney has always been he's cooperating, right? You don't just search someone's office, if they're cooperating, do you? CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I agree with Jeffrey that
it's a little unclear how this have split off to the southern district of New York. But basically, the -- an attorney's office can be searched. The U.S. attorney involved, this was done out of the southern district, would have been involved.
Rod Rosenstein clearly, he has said repeatedly that he is exercising authority over the special counsel's investigation, and if something comes up, arises during the course of that investigation, that he thinks is out of the scope of what the special counsel was given the mandate to do with respect to the Russia investigation, if we just sort of call that broadly, then he can say this is out of the scope of the Russia investigation.
But that doesn't mean that, if evidence of a crime has been discovered, that the Justice Department is just going to ignore it. They would send a lead to another squad, another office; and they would follow up on it.
So again, some of these details are a little bit unclear, but an attorney's office can be searched. It's unusual. And all of this would have been reported to the judge in the search warrant.
In other words, the judge that's had to sign off on this warrant would have understood, and it would have been explained in the request for the warrant, the application that was presented to the judge. Judge, this is who we're searching. This is the scope of the investigation. This is the locations that we want to search.
Here is the issues that the person is an attorney. And then the judge could either order procedures that the executing agents of the search would have to follow while they're conducting the search.
In other words, here is the specific things you can look for, or the judge, the warrant, might have said, OK, you can search these locations, take what you need. And then they would set up teams that would filter out any type of attorney-client privilege afterwards. So that that type of information is protected.
CUOMO: Tainted information.
TOOBIN: We're talking about process here, and that process is very important, but it's important to focus also on the substance here. Here you have someone who is the closest person to the president of the United States when it comes to various scandals. The so-called fixer, Michael Cohen.
The government and a judge have now found that Michael Cohen, this person who is so close to the president, there's probable cause to believe in his personal possessions there's evidence related to crime. That's pretty amazing to think about.
And you have to -- and you saw the rage of the president. I mean, we are in a whole new area of the investigation now. So close to the president. CAMEROTA: We have that moment for people who missed it, about how
exercised the president became when he learned about this raid on Michael Cohen. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[06:10:12] TRUMP: 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 have worked for President Obama.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: So we can fact check some of that. They're not all Democrats. Though some, obviously on Mueller's team are, but he can't ask them, by the way.
Here are the top people. These are all Republicans, and you see Robert Mueller, Rod Rosenstein, and Christopher Wray, who you were talking about, Jeffrey Berman. These are all registered Republicans. And by the way, Mueller can't ask people "How are you registered" when he chooses them for his team. I think that perhaps President Trump is talking about the sub people on Mueller's team have given donations to Democratic candidates in the past.
But what he's suggesting, Carrie, is that, if you have any political leanings in your life or ever have, you can't do your job professionally?
CUOMO: Right, but look we get that he's upset about this. Cohen is very important to him personally and professionally. But you also have to call this what it is. This is the politics of distraction.
Mueller's team has some type of breakdown of Democrat and Republican. It's about 50/50. We're told that Mueller did that intentionally, because he thought he'd be identified as a Republican. He wanted some kind of diversity on his team.
But everybody involved in this, Carrie, has to be somebody who was hand-picked by this president. No matter how it transferred, once you get away from Mueller, Rosenstein, his pick. Jeff Sessions on top of the DOJ, if this isn't seen as a matter related to Russian interference. He's not recused. He had to know something about this. Jeffrey Berman had to know something about this in the southern district. The head of the FBI, Christopher Wray, they're all Trump's guys. I just don't think his This I'm under siege by Democrats holds up, does it?
CORDERO: It doesn't. This is a Republican Justice Department at this point with political leadership at all of the top levels.
Now, there are a few division heads that have not been confirmed yet, but they have been nominated, and they are acting individuals in those capacities that would have been selected by Attorney General Sessions.
So this is his own political leadership in the Justice Department that he selected. Director Mueller was chosen by Rod Rosenstein based on his extensive public service experience. His team is experienced prosecutors and Justice Department officials.
If we can just back it up, what the president doesn't like is an independent Justice Department. He doesn't -- he didn't during the campaign, and more than a year into his presidency, he doesn't understand that the Justice Department operates according to certain rules, ethics and the principles of the justice system.
And that process will take its place regardless of political pressure that he has applied over the course of the last year. And so this is a wide-ranging, if we talk about the special counsel's office, and now, if there are any other spinoffs, this is obviously a wide-ranging started as a national security investigation, now a large criminal investigation that is going in various directions and the individuals, whether or not they are now Republican nominees who are involved in the decision-making process, have long experience in the Justice Department.
And it really does seem that they are holding true to that work in their continuation of this investigation.
CAMEROTA: All right. Carrie Cordero, thank you both very much.
CUOMO: So we're going to see this weaving together of politics and law here. So after this search on the president's lawyer, what does this mean in terms of this special counsel, who is on your screen right now? The president would not say that Bob Mueller is safe. We're going to dig deeper about what those around the president, leaders of his own party, are warning the president against.
[06:17:28] CUOMO: President Trump slamming the FBI's search of his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen's, offices and maybe even his home. Sources telling CNN no one in the White House can predict his next move. The president himself wouldn't even say what he might do.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Why don't I just fire Mueller? 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Once again, obviously, the president is getting a little ahead of the situation. We don't know what they found. They just executed the search warrant.
So let's bring in CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and CNN political analyst John Avlon. We do have this dovetailing of law and politics here.
Right. We've been talking about the law. Politically, how does this lay out right now?
JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: This is incredibly high-stakes moment for the president and his administration. Not only is this the first real crisis without a lot of his close confidants, Hope Hicks, long-time communications director, nowhere in this as the pressure ratchets up. The president finding out about this on television.
The temptation to fire Mueller, with also James Comey's book coming out within seven days, that will ratchet up pressure, as well. So the question is whether the president flies off the handle, does something rash that people have been encouraging him not to do like fire Mueller. What the cascading effects of that would be.
Also reconciling himself to the fact that this is his Justice Department. This is a U.S. attorney for the southern district, appointed by him to replace Preet Bharara. So there's got to be an extra sense of betrayal which may further inflame his actions.
CAMEROTA: He can't fire Mueller directly, as we know. He would have to order Rod Rosenstein, the deputy A.G., to do it. And then Rod Rosenstein would have to decide what he wanted to do.
But let's just go down that road. Because people keep asking the president about it, and you heard him responding. So let's say that that cascading effect does happen. Are the wheels of this investigation already in motion, and would it continue even without Mueller at the helm?
TOOBIN: No, absolutely not. I mean, I think this is a very important point. That the president really has within his ability to stop this investigation. When President Nixon fired Archibald Cox in 1973 in the Saturday Night Massacre, he replaced him with Leon Jaworski, who continued the investigation.
There is no sign that I'm aware of that President Trump would replace Robert Mueller. So, I think the investigation, to the extent it existed at all, would return to the regular Justice Department. The pending cases, like the one against Manafort, would certainly be prosecuted by someone.
[06:20:08] But in terms of the investigation, I think it would probably just peter out. And you know, that's a very -- and the president may know that and think, good. That's a reason to fire him.
CUOMO: Look, I mean, we're learning something or a lot of people are learning something about our system. We give a president, as the head of an executive, a tremendous amount of power.
So, even something as common sense of, well, Alisyn, you're part of this. They're looking at you, too. You can't do anything about this. You're conflicted out. It doesn't work that way.
However, there is a check on that politically. He has been warned before by people in his party, "Don't move on Mueller. One, it doesn't make sense from you strategically. You want this probe to play out. You want to be exonerated, and then all the questions are dead. This is better for you. Leave it alone."
But also if he were to move on Mueller, if he were to try to go after the New York -- you know, the assistant U.S. attorney in the southern district about this, he could expose himself to very more aggressive efforts to impeach him.
JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: He could, and Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said if he fires Mueller, it will be the beginning of the end of his presidency.
But members of Congress have been convinced not to try to come up with a way of shielding Mueller. There were bills. Thom Tillis, Chris Coons had a bipartisan bill. But for a long time, they have been assured by the president's lawyers that he's not going to take this action. Therefore, this kind of protective bill would be unnecessary.
So that flank is still exposed. To your point about Leon Jaworski, right, I mean, first of all, a Democrat appointed by Bork to continue the investigation and the staff, wasn't fired. So you know, the precedents are useful as we go through what feels like an unprecedented time, but they might not be applicable.
TOOBIN: And if you look at the House of Representatives today, under Paul Ryan, who really believes they would impeach -- they would impeach Donald Trump if --
CAMEROTA: No, it would be the midterms. It would be if it became some sort of rallying cry for Democrats to turn out in the midterms.
TOOBIN: And you know, if Mueller were fired, I think you would see rallies in the streets here that would make the mothers and the gun control rallies look small. I mean, you would see --
CUOMO: That's the point. So it's not just that it would be the election. It's that I think what I'm understanding from my reporting is they're saying to him, these men and women in his own party, don't put me in this position. I know you think it's about you. But if you move on Mueller, if you move on what just happened, you're putting me in a position where now I have to own your decision. I don't want to own your decision.
TOOBIN: I think -- I think that's what they're saying to him. And when has Donald Trump ever put anyone's other -- anyone else's interests ahead of his own? If he thinks firing Mueller will save his presidency, what does he care if --
CUOMO: Well, especially now. Again, look, the reporting is suggestive, and we have Maggie Haberman, who's going to be deeper in this than anybody can get. This is the clearest sense that our president has ever had that this is about him.
So everybody who's been telling him you're safe, you're safe, even Mueller saying you're not a target. You know, don't worry about that. This is his first clear indication that maybe his paranoia was right the whole time. AVLON: And that's what -- one of the things he said yesterday was
this is an attack on our country. I'm sure he feels that way. It is literally not an attack on our country, of course. But he feels attacked. And he conflates the two.
But this is about checks and balances. This is about an independent law enforcement organization that's holding the president and, apparently, his lawyer to account. The fact it's farmed out for Mueller, it's unclear whether Mueller gave the southern district a tip on this to pursue, but it's an indication of the diffusion of the investigation, which makes it a little bit tougher to kill.
CAMEROTA: One side note: what you're saying is the language that he used is an attack on our country. It's been pointed out that he has never said that about what happened with Russia, and the election meddling. So using different -- stronger language about Mueller's investigation, he's also using strong language about Attorney General Jeff Sessions. So listen to what he said here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The attorney general made a terrible mistake when he did this and when he refused himself, or he should have certainly let us know if he was going to recuse himself. And we would have at least put a different attorney general in. He made what I consider to be a very terrible mistake for the country, but you'll figure that out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Will we? What is to become of Jeff Sessions?
TOOBIN: Well, I mean, look, he's been hanging from a -- by a thread for months, but he has been hanging in there. And it seems clear that Sessions is going to just keep doing his job.
And you know, he's pursuing an agenda that is very conservative, very anti-voting rights, very anti-affirmative action. You know. But he's doing the president's bidding there. But the president obviously has never forgiven him for the original sin of doing the right thing in recusing himself from the Russia investigation.
CUOMO: Look, this talk about the context is very important here. The president says this is about the country. This is about deep state. This is about -- it is about none of those things. This is about his personal sense of protection in this.
[06:25:11] Again, this is something he did not see coming. He has to believe, "My guys saw it coming. They didn't tell me." Jeff Sessions had to know. He didn't say anything to me. Christopher Wray, I thought he was my guy. They just told me this guy Jeffrey Berman gave me money in the -- in the campaign.
This is a man who anybody who's known him over time, I understand why he's in the fit of pique that he's in right now.
AVLON: Sure. CUOMO: And I've -- people do have to be aware that this is a man who
will protect himself like nobody we've ever seen in that office before.
AVLON: Right. And that's part of the insult, is that Cohen is the keeper of secrets, closer than anyone other than family has been said. We have a dozen agents raid his offices and his hotel room --
That kind of move, you know, I'm sure in his mind, this isn't what they do. The guy was supposedly cooperating. They go into his office. They'll use the word "raid." I think that was unfair of the process. Because it's a search. It was under a warrant. You know, but Manafort, certainly, you know, that was a bang in the open, which was very aggressive. This was very aggressive.
And once again, the president is going to have to reconcile, yes, it was very aggressive, but it was done by his own people.
CAMEROTA: John Avlon, Jeffrey Toobin, thank you both very much.
So President Trump promising a forceful response very soon to the chemical attack in Syria. We have a live report from Damascus for you next.