It’s time for President Donald Trump to sack Robert Mueller.

 

AP/ Reuters

Donald Trump hits out after FBI agents raid lawyer Michael Cohen’s office

US President Donald Trump says an FBI raid on the offices and home of his personal lawyer Michael Cohen is “an attack on our country”.

Key points:

  • Mr Trump’s lawyer is under investigation for campaign violations and bank fraud
  • He says the FBI raid on Michael Cohen’s offices and home are “a total witch-hunt”
  • Mr Cohen has been under public scrutiny for his payment of $US130,000 to Stormy Daniels

Federal agents raided the offices of Michael Cohen and seized documents, Mr Cohen’s lawyer Stephen Ryan said.

He said the search warrants were executed by the office of the US Attorney for Southern District of New York but they were “in part” related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

“The decision by the US Attorney’s Office in New York to conduct their investigation using search warrants is completely inappropriate and unnecessary,” Mr Ryan said in a statement.

“It resulted in the unnecessary seizure of protected attorney-client communications between a lawyer and his clients.”

Mr Ryan did not elaborate further on the contents taken, but a source said the FBI seized emails, tax documents and business records, according to The New York Times.

A source familiar with the investigation said the raid was conducted without prior warning.

Federal agents raided a room at the Loews Regency Hotel on Park Avenue in Manhattan where Mr Cohen had been staying while his apartment was being renovated, The New York Times reported.

The FBI and US Attorney’s office also sought any emails between former White House communications director Hope Hicks and Mr Cohen about a false and misleading account that Mr Trump helped prepare of a June 9, 2016, meeting between Mr Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr, son-in-law Jared Kushner and a group of Russians who had promised “dirt” on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Such emails would not be covered by attorney-client privilege, the unnamed source said, because Mr Cohen did not represent Ms Hicks.

A photo of Michael Cohen looking back over his shoulder at Trump Tower.

The Washington Post reported Mr Cohen was under investigation for campaign violations and bank fraud.

Mr Trump said the raid was a “real disgrace”.

“It’s an attack on our country in a sense,” he said.

When asked if he would fire Mr Mueller, Mr Trump said “we’ll see what happens”.

He said Mr Mueller’s team was the “most biased” group of people and the raid was part of “a total witch-hunt”.

Mr Trump cannot fire Mr Mueller directly, but he could order Deputy Attorney-General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees the special counsel’s probe, to end it, or Mr Trump could fire Mr Rosenstein if he refuses.

Under federal regulations, if Mr Mueller comes across information that is not directly related to his Russia-focused investigation, he must confer with Mr Rosenstein.

He could direct Mr Mueller to either investigate the issue himself or refer it to another law enforcement authority.

Wall Street lost momentum during its late afternoon trade following the FBI raids.

“Even if it ultimately ends up being nothing, the initial reaction is almost always negative in the market,” said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives for Charles Schwab in Austin, Texas.

Mr Cohen did not immediately respond to requests for comment, while a spokesman for Mr Mueller had no comment.

Mr Cohen is Mr Trump’s longtime personal lawyer.

He has been under heavy public scrutiny in recent months for his payment of $US130,000 to porn star Stormy Daniels, who claims to have had an affair with Mr Trump in the mid-2000s.

Mr Trump told reporters last week that he did not know about the payment.

“You’ll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney. You’ll have to ask Michael,” he said.

Daniels claims she had a sexual encounter with Mr Trump in 2006 and was paid to keep quiet as part of a non-disclosure agreement signed days before the 2016 presidential election.

She is now seeking to invalidate that agreement.

In response to Mr Trump’s remarks, Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti tweeted: “We very much look forward to testing the truthfulness of Mr Trump’s feigned lack of knowledge concerning the $130,000 payment.”

Mr Mueller is investigating allegations that Russia meddled in the US presidential election in 2016, and investigating possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.

Russia has denied allegations that it interfered in the election, and Mr Trump and the White House have repeatedly said there was no collusion.

AP/Reuters