Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein personally greenlighted the FBI raid of the apartment belonging to President Donald Trump’s personal counsel, Michael Cohen, on Monday, The New York Times reported.
Agents of the raid were in pursuit of records regarding payments to two women who claim they had affairs with Trump as well as information on The National Enquirer’s possible efforts to silence said women, multiple sources told the Times.
The FBI secured a search warrant to seek further information about Cohen’s involvement with ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal — whom American Media Inc., the Enquirer’s parent company, paid $150,000 — and adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, who was allegedly silenced mere days before the 2016 general election.
According to further reporting from the Times, Rosenstein’s personal involvement in the decision telegraphs that evidence in Cohen’s possession is strong enough that the Department of Justice’s number two was persuaded to get involved.
Stephen Ryan, Cohen’s lawyer, labeled the search as “inappropriate and unnecessary.” Trump echoed Ryan’s ire, taking to Twitter soon after news broke.
“Attorney–client privilege is dead!” Trump fired off early Tuesday morning.
He also wrote that the continuing investigations are “A TOTAL WITCH HUNT!!!”
Sources familiar with the president told the Times that the president began questioning aides and advisers about whether he should fire Rosenstein. Several reporters have also questioned if the president intends to subsequently fire special counsel Robert Mueller. Aides and lawmakers alike have advised that pulling the plug on either Rosenstein or Mueller could be catastrophic.
GOP leaders are speaking out in droves against such a decision. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said flatly that such a move would be “suicide for the president.”
Asked Monday whether he intends on firing Mueller, Trump said: “We’ll see what happens.”
The president added: “And many people have said you should fire him. Again, they found nothing and in finding nothing, that’s a big statement.”