President Trump says the FBI raid of his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, is a “real disgrace, it’s an attack on our country,” and calls the investigation a “total witch hunt” https://t.co/tKhp8GSMjz pic.twitter.com/FaBP49jDTY
— CNN (@CNN) April 9, 2018
The FBI raided President Trump’s longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen’s office, home, and hotel room Monday, seizing documents as part of a probe into possible bank fraud, wire fraud, and campaign finance violations, the Washington Post reports. According to the Wall Street Journal, the searches related to Cohen’s payment to former adult film actress Stormy Daniels and an investigation into its legality by the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan in coordination with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team.
On Monday, even Trump, himself, seemed somewhat shaken by the proximity of the raid. Cohen, while not a member of the Trump administration, is still a part of the Trump family’s inner circle, putting his demeanor as an Atlantic City pit boss to use doing the unseemly dirty work of cleaning up the effluent spewing from Trump Inc. During his brief remarks to reporters before a meeting with military advisers, Trump seemed unable to muster even the semi-coherent bluster needed to offer a plausible distraction to the potential seriousness of the development, particularly given the raid may have netted communications between Trump and his longtime henchman.
“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. It’s a total witch-hunt. I’ve been saying it for a long time,” Trump began, appearing ready to launch into a classic Trump diatribe. But Trump looked hesitant and uncharacteristically unsure of who to blame this time around. Slower on his feet than normal, Trump offered up half-hearted rebukes of Attorney General Jeff Sessions (!), James Comey, Hillary Clinton (obviously), and Barack Obama.
This didn’t feel like the spirited, righteous defense of an innocent man defending himself, this felt like someone who was going over a mental checklist of what they could have found in his head while speaking. Here are some highlights of what Trump came up with by way of a response:
• “They continue to just go forward and here we are talking about Syria, we’re talking about a lot of serious things with the greatest fighting force ever and I have this witch-hunt constantly going on for over 12 months now and actually much more than that.”
• “It’s a disgrace, it’s a real disgrace. It’s an attack on our country in a true sense. It’s an attack on what we all stand for so when I saw this and when I heard it, I heard it like you did, I said that is really now in a whole new level of unfairness.”
• “So this has been going on, I saw one of the reporters who is not necessarily a fan of mine, not necessarily very good to me, he said in effect that this is ridiculous, this is now getting ridiculous.”
• “This is the most biased group of people, these people have the biggest conflicts of interest ‘ve ever seen.”
• “They only keep looking at us so they find no collusion and then they go from there and they say well, let’s keep going and they raid an office of a personal attorney early in the morning and I think it’s a disgrace.”
• “The attorney general made a terrible mistake when he did this and when he recused himself or he should have certainly let us know if he was going to recuse himself and we would have used a—put a different attorney general in. So he made what I consider to be a very terrible mistake for the country but you’ll figure that out.”
“I’ve been president now for what seems like a lengthy period of time,” Trump said at one point. It may have been the only genuine Trump muttered during his remarks. But how much longer? Who knows! But we’re getting out the jumper cables and dusting off the ole Impeach-o-Meter just in case!
Elliot Hannon is a writer in New York City.
Slate · by Elliot Hannon · April 10, 2018