tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN April 9, 2018 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT
everyone behind the suspected chemical attack in syria whether it's bashar al assad or even vladimir putin. is the u.s. preparing to launch air strikes? we're standing by to hear from the president with military leaders this hour. and ethics review. a federal watchdog alerts the epa that its boss may be using his office for personal gain as the scandal surrounding scott pruitt grows, why is the president still defending him. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer, you're in the situation room. breaking tonight, the feds go after the president's fixer conducting raids targeti ining personal lawyer, we're told documents seized included information related to stormy daniels who was paid by cohen to stay silent about her alleged
affair with the president. it's a new twist in the stormy daniels case that's even more dramatic because the special counsel in the russia investigation, robert mueller, played a role in making this raid happen. let's go to our justice correspondent evan perez and our law enforcement analyst josh campbell, a former fbi special agent. evan, what are you learning about this extraordinary raid? >> extraordinary raid is exactly the point here, wolf. michael cohen's office, we know, has been raided by the fbi. it was carried out under the authority of the u.s. attorney in manhattan and according to michael cohen's attorney he says this was done as a referral. in other words the referral from the special counsel robert mueller who apparently has uncovered additional information that merited additional investigation by the u.s. attorney in manhattan and this
is now, of course, meaning there are two investigations that affect michael cohen and potentially the president of the united states. michael cohen not only the president's personal and long time personal attorney but also involved in a lot of parts of his business as well as helping to fund raise for the rnc. we'll read a art of the statement from steven ryan who says the u.s. attorneys office for the southern district of new york executed a series of search warrants and seized the privileged communication between my client -- michael cohen is his client. i have been advised it's in part a referral by the office of special counsel. wolf, what this means is that robert mueller in the course of his investigation uncovered something he believed was outside of the jurisdiction of his investigation which is to look into russian meddling in the 2016 election and he decided to consult with rod rod rosenstein who's the acting attorney general for the purposes of this investigation. he oversees all of this and they
decided to kick it over to federal prosecutors in new york who carried out the raid. now, we're told that one of the locations that was raided was michael cohen's office in 30 rockefeller center which is where nbc is located, obviously. it's inside an office -- a law firm which put out a statement saying they had nothing to do with this, simply that he was renting office space from this law firm. we don't know what other locations the fbi and u.s. attorney's office conducting searches of today but according to steven ryan, the attorney for michael cohen, there were multiple locations. he also says that the search warrant in his view is completely inaccurate -- inappropriate and unnecessary and he says that that's partly because michael cohen has been cooperating with investigators -- federal investigators, he's referring to congressional investigators, michael cohen has already spoken to them, we don't know
whether -- what direction they have had with special counsel robert mueller or the u.s. attorney in manhattan. >> the attorney for michael coh cohen had been provided thousands of non-privileged documents, but clearly they were looking for privileged documents at the same time. >> and keep in mind, wolf, again, there's a lot of unanswered questions about this stormy daniels payment that was made days before the election according to reporting from gloria borjger that at least soe of the documents that were being served related to this payment that was made $130,000 to zals in the days before the election. we've heard multiple explanations for the money, that he borrowed the money, that president trump was not informed about it. this raises obviously some questions about election law and possible tax laws so you can see why robert mueller's special counsel's office would have
determined that maybe this does not have to do with the russian meddling investigation but it is certainly something that raises potential criminal violations and this is why someone this close to the president is under a serious cloud as part of this investigation. >> very serious. josh campbell, you're a former fbi special agent. walk us through how a raid like this a is authorized and, b, conducted. >> a lot to unpack for our viewers. let's start with the fact that the initiation of a spinoff investigation and any type of enforcement action, so in today's events we saw execution of a search warrant. both of those are going to be coordinated at the highest levels of the department of justice, particularly when you're involving an individual who is the attorney for the president of the united states so once it appears as though there's probable cause to search a facility in order to go after evidence, that will take place in the southern district of new york in the u.s. attorney's office. an fbi agent will go before an independent magistrate and swear
out an affidavit indicates there is probable cause to believe that evidence of a crime exists in the location described and they'll describe what they're looking for. after the judge makes a determination that yes there is probable cause, fbi agents will conduct the search and go to the facility and gather that evidence. it's important to remember two things here, wolf. the first of which being this notion that these are privileged communications that are off limits, that's not something that the person being searched gets to determine. the old adage "tell it to the judge," that will be determined by the judge, what is relevant and what can be used down the line. you don't get to say fbi, you can't take this because this is privileged. also it's important to know that mr. cohen will know exactly what was taken because in the united states of america when an fbi search is conducted, the differently fbi agent searching your residence or location will leave you with a receipt telling you exactly what was taken. >> documents and all sorts of
things. >> this can't be a surprise to michael cohen, he's known for at least some time that there was a suspicious activity report generated by the bank flagging this transaction, this payment as something that was suspicious. again, this is money laundering laws that are specifically set up to flag suspicious payments. and so this bank flagged this payment, this is months ago in 2016 and so none of this is likely a surprise to michael cohen. he knew that somebody was going to take a deeper look at this, it was just a matter of when. >> computers, laptops, all sorts of stuff. >> bank records. >> cell phones, they can take any of that. >> they want communications records, e-mails, bank records, all of this is a -- it would be a very broad request but there would be specific things that the they are looking for and one of the things gloria borger is told relates to this payment to stormy daniels days before the election. >> everybody stand by.
jim acosta is working his sources. any reaction from the white house to the breaking news? >> not yet. the president is about to be in a situation where the white house pool will be going in to ask him questions. potentially. he's meeting with military leaders, dining with military leaders so he could be asked this question about this raid that was conducted at the office of michael cohen. the other thing we should point out is we have asked the white house press office for a response. keep in mind in the past, even the president himself said talk to my attorney michael cohen about stormy daniels. well, michael cohen is obviously the subject of a raid so that's not possible so we're waiting to find out if there's a comment coming out of the white house. in the meantime i can tell you inside trump world they are not happy with this development. i talked to one source close to
the white house who said based on his own conversations with the president that this kind of action, this kind of course being taken by the fbi to raid the offices of his personal attorney could push the president in the direction of firing the deputy attorney general rod rosenstein to make sure that robert mueller is off of this case. that obviously is a potential for something that could take place, we don't know whether or not the president will indeed do that but in the words of this source close to the white house, robert mueller has gone rogue. that was how it was put to me by the source close to the white house, wolf. so they were obviously very concerned about this and that raises the specter of essentially a constitutional clash between the white house and capitol hill. we've long heard from lawmakers in both parties that if the president were to take some kind of action to elbow robert mueller out of this investigation that that would potentially lead to impeachment proceedings on capitol hill or
lawmakers taking into their own hands and trying to elect or vote on a piece of legislation that would appoint a special prosecutor. their own special prosecutor in all of this. how all of that would unfold in the days, weeks, months, that's uncharted waters or waters we haven't been in for a long time but wolf undoubtedly -- and i don't think this should come as any surprise. the fact that the fbi, even though it was through the u.s. attorney's office and not directly from the special counsel, the fact that this kind of action was taken is rattling people inside trump world, people close to the president and as i said this one source close to the white house, even though the facts don't match up with that because the u.s. attorney's office directed this to take place, not exactly the special counsel, but in the words of this one source close to the white house, they believe robert mueller has gone rogue in this investigation. it's not about russia meddling if they're talking about stormy daniels, wolf. >> jim acosta at the white house, we'll get back to you.
i want to go to new york where the fbi raided michael cohen's offices. our national correspondent athena jones is just outside where that all took place. what happened where you are and is there any reaction coming in from stormy daniels' sflaur. >>. >> we are at one of the locations, the law firm of squire pat and bobs which is on the 23rd floor of rockefeller center. we spoke with a security guard who said the floor was inaccessible today. cohen had formed a strategic alliance with the law firm to develop business after he left the trump organization last year so the firm doesn't represent president trump, it doesn't represent michael cohen and the firm put out a statement saying they concluded their agreement with cohen, this raid doesn't have anything to do with them but we have been in touch with federal authorities. but gloria borger says among the many documents and records that were collected as part of these
raids were documents related to this stormy daniels case. this is of course the case of the porn star michael cohen says he paid $130,000 to weeks before the election. so that is apparently part of the reason for this raid. michael avenatti, stormy daniels' lawyer is practically gleeful on twitter. he tweeted out the "new york times" article about this raid and he followed up saying see below and review my comments and pri dictions last week on cnn and msnbc, an enormous amount of misplaced faith has been placed on michael cohen's shoulderes in my opinion. if he does not hold up, this could end very, very badly for donald j. trump and others and then you have to article that he was referring folks to. so this is clearly a very big deal and remember this is a case that is still ongoing. michael avenatti has asked twice, he refiled a request with the judge to question michael cohen and also president trump
under oath about this $130,000 payment, about the deal itself. so this is a big deal to see this office be raided like this today in the midst of all of this. >> what is it like where you are athe athena? big crowds are developing? what do you see? >> we wouldn't know that that anything has taken place walking by, we were told by the security guard that the 23rd floor where this law office is located was inaccessible but otherwise it looks like a normal afternoon sort of the middle of rush hour here in new york. you can't tell anything happened up there this morning. >> athena, stand by. jeffrey toobin is with us. jeffrey, you're a former federal prosecutor, give us your analysis of this extraordinary moment. >> i think it's important to emphasize how unusual it is to get a search warrant of a lawyer's office. the justice department does do it on occasion but they're very reluctant to give prosecutor's permission to ask for -- to ask
for search warrants of lawyers offices because there are so many complicated issues relating to the attorney/client privilege in obtaining documents that might violate that privilege. so they only allow these searches in rare circumstances. so this makes this moment even more extraordinary. it's not just that someone so close to the president had his offices searched, but someone who is a lawyer which means that the justice department felt very strongly that there was probable cause related to evidence of crimes in michael cohen's office and a magistrate judge agreed. now the answer to what they are looking for is in a document called the affidavit in support of the search warrant but that's under seal, this is a breaking investigation so unfortunately we're left to speculate, i hope intelligently, about what they were looking for. >> gloria, you're working your
sources and getting more information. >> and i think it's more of what we were saying before that i've just been told from a source who is close to this case that this is overwhelmingly about stormy daniels, that there may have been some tertiary requests that amount to his business dealings, et cetera, in new york, but i think it's about -- i think it's about the payments -- i think it's largely -- including the payments to stormy but this source said largely about the payments to stormy and i do believe that it also covers communications that he may have had with the president. >> that's a pretty sensitive issue. how do you see it, laura? >> a couple issues. number one, obviously attorney/client privilege communications are sacrosanct but there's a crime fraud exception which says that if it's something being used or in furtherance of a crime, that privilege could possibly go away. we don't know if that's the case here but his comments about going rogue and not including
the president of the united states, his client regarding a campaign contribution or a donation would be a problem. but the larger issue is that remember, just ten months ago or a little over ten months ago the sitting fdny u.s. attorney was fired by donald trump and last october jeff sessions sat before the senate judiciary committee and said the president of the united states had a hand in selecting or interviewing the successors. this person, berman i believe is his name, was formerly with iran-contra, worked under the fall and his same office is not only the one that includes trump tower where the infamous with it were russians took place but also includes the manafort investigation. they're looking at the role the special counsel had in this, it almosts as seems as though as a real bite in the proverbial for the president of the united states. but we have to get over the hurdle of privileged
communication but there is quite an exception. >> ann milligram, you're a federal prosecutor. his home was raided by the fbi as well. he had a room at the lowe's regency hotel. that was raided. the office he had at this law firm was raided in new york. we're told seen fen has learned a dozen fbi agents were involved in these respective raids. what does that say to you? >> it says they had reason to believe there was evidence in all of those places. remember, to get an affidavit signed by a federal judge, the assistant u.s. attorney has to be able to say to the judge we have probable cause to believe a crime was committed by this individual and we believe evidence will be in each of these specific locations so it must be that mr. cohen has significant ties to those offices, had computers potentially or documents stored and there's reasonable that that there would be evidence in any one of those place. >> josh chasm bell, how do you
see it? multiple raids, various locations, fbi agents all over the place, clearly they had search warrants. >> it shows you the breadth of the investigation and that they're trying to do these searches simultaneously which makes sense. if you have a target who has evidence in different locations you want to hit the targets at the same time or short order because you don't want a defendant or someone that may know him destroying evidence. an fbi search, time is on the fbi's side so they'll take as many agents as they think necessary in order to secure a location and gather the evidence and information they're looking for. the notion that we heard earlier that because mr. cohen is cooperating that all of this is unnecessary should be addressed. my former colleagues who were former prosecutors and attorneys know that in law enforcement we don't look at the world and say i trust this person because he's giving me reason to trust him. we look at individuals, especially defendants and say do
i have reason to distrust this person? and with this particular individual when you look at the $130,000 payment and other things we've seen reported, an investigator will say this isn't someone is who is going to hand us over what we want so we need to go to a judge, an independent magistrate and get the government to demand the records be turned over and they do that via the search. >> jeffrey toobin, i can only imagine how angry the president is when he see this is unfolding. we had been told earlier he was watching cable tv, watching the breaking news. is this the red line that potentially could result in his decision to fire rod rosenstein, the deputy attorney general or robert mueller for that matter? >> i can only think of one thing that robert mueller could have done that would have enraged the president more and that would have been to search the home of jared kushner and ivanka trump. michael cohen is that close to the president and when you think that a search warrant is a
license to rummage in the private papers and e-mails and electronic records and cell phone records of the person who described himself and whose lawyer described himself as the president's fixer, think how vulnerable that must make the president feel. think how enraged that must make him feel. this has to be a moment where if he's considering firing mueller, this will be something that prompts. >> it and we also know that the president invited keuchel doe hen to mar-a-lago a week ago, they publicly had dinner. the president said publicly he is my attorney and if this is indeed largely related to the stormy daniels payoffs we know that the bank, as evan perez was saying earlier, we know it was flagged. we know this kind of movement of money is very much flagged by banks so you have to ask
yourself a question. why are they looking at this so closely? were there more? were there other businesses michael cohen had that had some issues? perhaps tax issues? how much of this is related to trump? we believe that the warrant included some communications with the president. we don't know what that is. we know the president doesn't do e-mail, for example. but i agree with jeffrey, i think the president's got to be pretty upset. >> the president of the united states is now commenting on these late-breaking developments. let's go to jim acosta at the white house. what is he saying? >> wolf, we can tell you the white house press pool is in with the president right now. they may be coming out at this moment, the president meeting with military leaders this evening and we can tell you that in just the last several minutes he commented. he was asked about the michael cohen raid and the president saying "it's a disgraceful situation, it's an attack on our country, what we all stand for. he said going on here i have
this witch-hunt that is constantly going on. he referred to the special counsel -- and we should cautious, these are the initial quotes coming out of this pool spray, we'll have to wait for the exact verbatim but this is what we're getting so far but referring to the special counsel the president said just moments ago according to the initial read from the white house pool that the special counsel is the most conflicted group of people i have ever seen. the president went on to criticize the attorney general jeff sessions for recusing himself in the russia investigation as you know. that is something that gets under the president's skin. he repeatedly said that no one is looking at the other side, referring to hillary clinton's e-mails. wolf, this is obvious ly more t come. we'll hear when the tape comes out -- this is what we call a tape turn. as soon as that tape is ready the video will come out and you'll hear the president of the united states responding very emotionally, responding very
viscerally to what is undoubtedly very negative news in this investigation. you can see reporters are coming out of the meeting with the president that was happening a few moments ago so you'll see that video shortly but undoubtedly, wolf. this is a president who is deeply upset by these developments that the fbi would raid the offices and hotel room and so on of his personal attorney when the president of the united states is referring to something like this happening as a disgrace, that will make a lot of news. in one of the other pool notes to come out of the room here with the one of the other reporters, the president also appeared to say that he learned about all of this as we did so it sounds as if this came as very much of a surprise so people at the white house, again, this video should play out shortly and we'll get a better read what the president said as you can see reporters filing into the press room right now wolf. >> and we've just learned that
some of the communications seized by the fbi agents in the course of these raids in new york involving michael cohen included some of michael cohen's communications with the president himself. this will further anger the president, as you point out, the president calling this a disgraceful situation, a witch-hunt, he says as you point out, it's an attack on our own country, what we stand for. >> that's right, wolf. and the president knows history all too well. he knows what happened during the whitewater investigation of the late '90s, the impeachment of bill clinton, how that started off as an investigation into real estate property transactions involving the clintons and ended up becoming a sex scandal for president bill clinton and obviously the president is mindful of what took place today if the reports are accurate, that communications pertaining to the stormy daniels case were seized
by the fbi. the president maybe feeling like this is deja vu all over again and, again, referring to what the source close to the white house told me this evening, wolf, the feeling is inside the inner circle of the president's advisers, people who talk to him on a daily basis, if those people are telling the president, mr. president, the time is now, robert mueller has stepped outside the bounds of this investigation, yes they can say they handed it over to the u.s. attorney's office in new york and yes they can say robert mueller did not go into the offices of michael cohen, his hotel room and so on, you can hear this in the president's voice, he obviously feels that this is an attack on his presidency, an attack on himself and this is ominous what you're hearing from the president when he's describing in the this kind of language, that this is an attack. he feels under attack right now, wolf. >> and the context, the president's meeting with his military leaders to discuss a u.s. reaction to what happened
in syria, a poison gas attack on children and others suspected by the syrian regime and the president at the top -- and we're going to get this tape momentarily, blasts what happened today in new york involving his attorney and long-time fixer michael cohen calling it a disgraceful situation. we'll get that tape momentarily, viewers will hear it. jeffrey, sounds to me like this is a potential turning point right now. you can see how angry the president -- he says it's an attack on our own country, what we all stand for. >> we heard that shortly after the robert mueller was appointed that the president wanted to fire on him and don mcgahn, the white house counsel threatened to quit if, in fact, the president fired robert mueller and the president backed off. certainly this initial response from the president suggests that the firing of robert mueller is right again on the table and the
question is will don mcgahn talk him out of it? will general kelly, the white house chief of staff talk him out of it or will he simply go ahead and do it? because if you listen to those comments -- and we've only -- we haven't heard them firsthand but we've heard them from jim, it sounds like a man who wants to fire robert mueller. i don't know what other interpretation you could make and if that happens we're talking about a constitutional crisis, we're talking about impeachment hitting congress even with a republican congress there will be republicans who want to impeach him to say nothing of virtually every democrat. >> it sounds, laura, like a president -- we're only a minute or so away from hearing the president's comments, it sounds like a president not only would like to fire robert mueller but rod rosenstein and maybe jeff sessions as well, the attorney general for recusing himself from this whole russia probe. >> well, the gulf of mexico know effe
-- domino effect is in full force, he's looking at jeff sessions as the impetus behind these actions and comey as well but he can't just fire robert mueller without having recourse with congress. there has to be a due cause or reason to do so. but remember robert mueller has given himself political cover here, wolf. he's referred to the southern district of new york, not himself, trying to avoid the very ire of the president of the united states by saying it's not under my purview at this time, i'm handing it over to somebody else who has prosecutorial prerogative in this jurisdiction and that was somebody he himself chose after firing and cleaning house of the 96 u.s. attorneys include preet bharara. so the president has in a way, unlike he's accepting, inviting this happening but there's much more of a disconnect of what robert mueller has done as part of the so-called witch-hunt and what the fdny is doing right now. >> the president speaking at a moment ago, speaking with his military leaders, talking about a possible u.s. response to
what's been going on in syria, here's the president. >> 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. 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 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. you could say it was right after i won the nomination it started. and 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. they found no collusion whatsoever with russia, the reason they found it is there was no collusion at all. no collusion. 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 that worked for president obama. they're not looking at the other side. they're not looking at the hillary clinton horrible things
that she did and all of the crimes that were committed. they're not looking at all of the things that happened that everybody is very angry about, i can tell you, from the republican side and i think even the independent side. 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. so we'll talk about it more but this is the most conflicted group of people i've ever seen. 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. all i can say is after looking for a long period of time, not
even before the special counsel because it really started just about from the time i won the nomination and you look at what took place and what happened and it's a disgrace. it's a disgrace. i've been president now for what seems like a lengthy period of time. we've done a fantastic job. we've beaten isis. we have just about 100% of the caliphate or the land. our economy is incredible. the stock market dropped a lot today as soon as they heard the noise, this nonsense that is going on. it dropped a lot. it was up -- way up and then it dropped quite a bit at the end. a lot. but that we have to go through that, we've had that hanging over us now from the very, very beginning and yet the other side, they don't even bother looking and the other side is where there are crimes and those
crimes are obvious -- lies under oath all over the place, e-mails that are knocked out, that are acid washed and deleted, nobody's ever seen -- 33,000 e-mails are deleted after getting a subpoena for congress and nobody bothers looking at that. and many, many other things so i just think it's a disgrace that a thing like this can happen. with all of that being said, we are here to discuss syria tonig tonight. we're the greatest fighting force anywhere in the world. these gentlemen and ladies are incredible people. incredible talent and we're making a decision as to what we do with respect to the horrible attack that was made near damascus and it will be met and
it will be met forcefully and when i will not say because i don't like talking about timing but we are developing the greatest force that we've ever had, we had $700 billion just approved which was the reason i went along with that budget, because we had to fix our military. general mattis would tell you that above anybody, we had to fix our military and right now we're in a big process of doing that, $700 million and then $716 billion next year. so we're going to make a decision tonight or very shortly thereafter and you'll be hearing the decision but we can't let atrocities like we all witnessed and you can see that and it's horrible. we can't let that happen in our world. we can't let that happen. especially when we're able to because of the power of the united states, because of the
power of our country we're able to stop it. i want to thank ambassador john bolton for joining us. i think he's going to be a fantastic representative of our team. he's highly respected by everybody in this room and john i want to thank you very much, this is going to be a lot of work. interesting day, he picked today as his first day so generals, i think he picked the right day. but certainly you're going to find it very exciting because we are going to do a fantastic job and appreciate you joining us. >> thank you, honor to be here. >> thank you all very much. >> reporter: [ inaudible question ] >> reporter: why don't you just fire sfloourl. >> why don't i just fire mueller? will, i think it's a disgrace, but i think it's 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. if you know the person in charge of the investigation, you know all about that deputy rosenstein, rod rosenstein, he wrote the letter very critical of comey. one of the things i said i fired comey, well, 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's 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. so we'll see what happens. i think it's disgraceful and so
does a lot of other people. this is a pure and simple witch-hunt. thank you very much. thank you. thank you. thank you all very much. thank you. >> thanks, everyone, thank you all. >> reporter: can we get more clarity on. [ inaudible question ] >> we are getting clarity on who is responsible for the weapons attack. we are getting very good clarity, actually. we have some pretty good answers. >> >> reporter: what are your options? >> thank you, thank you. >> we have a lot of options militarily and we'll be letting you know pretty soon. >> thank you, everybody. thank you all. >> probably after the fact. >> thank you. >> thank you all very much. >> thank you, mr. president.
>> a truly extraordinary moment right there, dare i say an extraordinary moment in american history sitting with his vice president, his national security adviser and all of the military brass ostensibly to discuss what to do in syria, the president went after the special counsel robert mueller, went after the investigation, he said the fbi broke into the offices, he used the words "broke into the offices" of michael cohen, his long-time fixer and attorney in new york. a disgraceful situation. he repeatedly said this was a witch-hunt that was going on he then went and said this is an attack on our country. he said he heard about it like all of you did, a real disgrace. repeated those words several times. he accused robert mueller and his team of being the most biased group of people, almost all of them, he said are democrats, they found absolutely no collusion over the past year or so he said, as a result they're looking into all of this. he went after his attorney
general jeff sessions who he said made a very, very terrible mistake by recusing himself. he was asked if he was going to fire robert mueller, he didn't give a decisive answer. jeffrey door bin, when i say this is a moment in american history, we can only anticipate what happens next. >> we can anticipate but we may not be right. you know, to have the president of the united states attacking a prosecutor who is investigating his lawyer today, it's just something that's never happened before. so much of the trump presidency, whether it's claiming falsely that millions of people voted fraudulently, whether it's claiming -- insisting that his political enemies as he did today again should be criminally investigated, this is without precedent in modern american history. but what we saw today is a president who at least to my
appearances looks like he's itching to fire robert mueller. whether someone will talk him out of it, i don't know. they've talked him out of in the the past but he seemed very, very willing to do that and keep in mind, not only was this robert mueller who sought this search warrant, it was jeffrey berman, the u.s. attorney in the southern district of new york appointed very recently by donald trump and it was magistrates and judges who said these search warrants were justified. so the idea that this is some witch-hunt, that this is robert mueller going off on his own without any supervision and a vendetta and a wish hunt is simply not true when you look at all the people who were involved in the decision today. so you know the president can say what he says but i think we have to have the obligation -- we have the on ligation here to tell the truth about what's going on. >> you're the former attorney
general of new jersey, former federal prosecutor, have you ever seen anything like this before? >> i have not and i would add to what jeff just said, if we look at the facts here, the facts are that robert mueller has been empowered to conduct an investigation, as part of that he allegedly we have reason to believe he found evidence of criminal activity that he believes should be referred to another law enforcement agency, to the u.s. attorney's office and as jeff just said, the decision of whether or not to have sought that search warrant was not made by robert mueller, this is a really important point, that decision was made by the current u.s. attorney who donald trump appointed, by the current sei, the head of whom donald trump appointed so to say this is about robert mueller could not be farther from the truth. robert mueller is engaged in this larger investigation but you get criminal referrals all the time. when i was attorney general we got referrals constantly. sometimes we got them from citizens, sometimes from other law enforcement agencies and we had to decide did we believe
there was sufficient evidence to seek search warrants and so this is about the people sitting in those chairs at the u.s. attorney and at the fbi right now so to donald trump make this about robert mueller doesn't square with the facts as we know them. >> and it's not just the prosecutors. it's not just robert mueller and berman, the u.s. attorney in new york, it's the judges who approved the search warrant. >> true. >> they also were a check on the process. so the idea that this was just robert mueller is simply not true. >> >> everybody stand by. we have a lot to assess but right now i want to bring in congressman will hurd, a republican member of the intelligence and homeland security, former clandestine officer for the cia. what's your reaction to what we just heard from the president of the united states, congressman? >> well, i think bob mueller should stay, he should be allowed to turn over every rock, pursue every lead and this was
obviously -- if you're investigating something and you find some potential criminal misconduct you can refer that but as all of the previous speakers and guests have highlighted, this was done by the u.s. attorney in new york city and a judge is the one that agreed that there was probable cause for going into the lawyer's office and home so it's been a pretty wild day in, no. you have this going on and then you have the u.n. security council debating the issues in syria so new york is the seat of a lot of activity today. >> i can only imagine how uncomfortable those military brass must have felt at that event there hearing the president saying this is a disgraceful situation, the fbi broke into the offices of michael cohen. his attorney. and then he said, congressman, this is an attack on our country and what we all stand for. are you uncomfortable with those
comments? >> well, i don't know what he was referring to so you would have to ask the president -- >> he was referring to what happened in new york today when they had a search warrant and they went in and collected all these documents. >> yeah. having a search warrant is definitely not breaking in somewhere and the bottom line is i'm sure my colleagues from the national security apparatus were uncomfortable was they're trying to talk about what an appropriate response to the chemical weapons attack that happened in sir and having a response is important and to get side tracked from this is unfortunate. >> i would have thought the president would not have put the military brass in that awkward situation, if he wanted to make a statement, which is his right, he could have called the pool at a separate event without putting the admirals in that situation, his national security team. but when he says it's a
witch-hunt, when he says it's a real disgrace, when he says these are the most conflicted group of ever people i have ever seen, referring to special counsel robert mueller and his team, the most biased group of people saying they're almost all democrats when the attorney general is a republican, the deputy attorney general is a republican, mueller is a republican. is the special counsel in your opinion congressman safe right now? >> i think he is because i think bob mueller is going to continue to do his work and to pursue any lead and turn over every single rock. i think many of us in congress have made it clear that bob mueller should be able to continue his investigation when it comes to what happened with the -- our elections in 2016. this is obviously a referral that was made to the u.s. attorney in new york city so i look at that as a separate issue from the work that bob mueller
is doing on his investigation. >> what would you do, congressman, if he fired robert mueller and/or the deputy attorney general rod rosenstein? >> well, i think everybody recognizes that this situation would get even crazier than if he were to actually fire one of those two individuals so i don't think bob mueller has done anything to warrant a firing and i think many of us in congress on both sides of the aisle believe that is the case. that he should be allowed to continue his work and pursue leads. >> i want to get your thoughts on the breaking news involving syria. the president was meeting with his military brass to discuss what the u.s. should do in the afternoon math of this poison gas attack. do you believe the president should seek thorks from congress to use military force right now respond? >> i think a response and using
military force is something that is within his capabilities. we do have troops in the region and this is something that should be coordinated with the rest of the international community. that's why the debates are happening right now at the u.n. security council, we should be working with the french, we should be working with the israelis and we should also be putting pressure on the russians because the fact that the russian ambassador to the u.n. is trying to act as if this was something that was staged and that russia had sent people in to investigate and didn't find any chemical weapons use, this is an example of information warfare and disinformation that the russian government continues to put out not only in syria but in places like muldova and georgia and ukraine and this kind of activity needs to stop. if anybody wants to see what happened, just look at the white helmets twitter feed.
this is a group of civilians that go into places in syria to help rescue people when there's an attack and it's obvious that young kids were being poisoned and were suffocating in their own fluids because of a chemical attack and this is something that russia should pay for this as well because they're the ones that are helping to prop up bashar al assad and the iranians are duplicitous in this, too, because of their support for that rejom. our think our response should be to make sure we severely degreed bashar al assad's ability to conduct chemical warfare attack throughout the country of syria. >> congressman will hurd of texas, thank you so much. >> thank you, wolf. >> let's get back to what we heard from the president of the united states, the fbi raiding the offices of michael cohen,
broke into their offices, the president says, a disgraceful situation, a witch-hunt, phil mud, he says, the president of the united states, this is an attack on our country, what we all stand for. >> it is an attack on our country and it is disgraceful and that's on the part of the president of the united states. this is high school civics, what we call the balance of forces in this country, legislative, judicial. a judge decided outside the mueller investigation that it was appropriate for federal investigators to go into this office. that's a judge separate from the mueller investigation. if a major gets a speeding ticket from the police chief in a small town he gets the same treatment the carpenter does in the small town. you don't get to put your finger on the scales of justice whether you're the mayor or the president. what the president just said, which is a disgrace, is that he believes he should be able to determine who is in investigated in this country. that's what dictators do, that's not what democracies do. that's a disgrace. >> how do you see it, matthew? >> there's a lot here. that statement from the oval office where phil is right, he's going after the fbi, going after
the entire apparatus of our law enforcement saying it's a witch-hunt, they're breaking into my lawyer's office, i don't know where you start with that and we don't even know what this investigation is about. they seized tax documents, business records, the stormy daniels issue and the larger russia probe mueller is running. a whole range of issues we have no idea but the president is out there almost threatening to fire people over this. >> he says, the president, this is the most biased group of people, almost all democrats, referring to robert mueller's team, which isn't true. >> the >> it was like watching the national hockey leagnh "saturday night live" version of what we saw live watching it in the first place. he blamed the democrats for not investigating the "other side." he threw in isis, the stock market, it was an attempt as he does so often, to chum the waters and get off the basic
fact that michael cohen, someone who he described more than once in that press availability, as his attorney, not his friend as we're hearing the last couple of weeks, as a threat to the united states, rather than as phil says, the duly prosecuted investigation of someone who's involved with the special prosecutor and with the new york attorney general. >> the attorney general is a republican, the deputy attorney general is a republican. the u.s. attorney in manhattan, a republican. robert mueller, a republican. stand by, we're getting new information. we gotta take a quick break. we'll be right back.
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get more on the breaking news we're following, the fbi raid targeting the president's personal attorney michael cohen. former u.s. attorney in new york preet bharara is joining us. gloria borger is back with new reporting. what are you learning now, gloria? >> we're learning that the search warrant was largely about stormy daniels. i was told that it has a number of requests, all of which are subsections of this big request, as it was described to me by a source with knowledge, that is, the payments to stormy daniels, communications with the president about this, and communications with the campaign about this. the warrant also includes some kind of smaller investment issues, that could be related or unrelated to the stormy daniels
issue. my source was not sure, but interestingly enough, it does mention election laws. and we know that michael cohen took out this private lone and paid it on behalf of the president. i also know from sources who are close to the president, that they believe that they crossed a line. and you heard that in the president today, that this is his personal attorney. they believe they have been playing nice and cooperating with the special counsel and i think they now believe the special counsel has escalated this. so that's over. >> yeah, it's a major moment right now. preet, you heard the president reacting angrily to the raid on michael cohen and his offices, saying this is a whole new level, the president said, of unfairness. he called it repeatedly a disgrace, said it's an attack on our country in a true sense, his words. he said, an attack on what we all stand for. what's your reaction when you hear the president blast all of
these individuals along those lines? >> well, it's not different from what we've seen before. he doesn't like investigations that touch on him or his associates or his family, or his dealings in any way, shape or form. it's probably not a great idea to be blasting folks this way because it lays the foundation that he doesn't like investigations and might do something to stop them. important to note, maybe it's already been discussed, but everyone involved, if the reporting is true, particularly the part about this being approved by the southern district of new york, the attorney's office, which i used to lead, who are all people who are republican and hand-picked by donald trump. i left office, my deputy took over, june kim. and then he was removed specifically for donald trump to put in the united states attorney who is now acting there, jeff berman. he hand-picked him, there were reports that he interviewed him. -t
to do a search on an attorney's office, it's a sensitive thing. it requires the approval of the united states attorney in conjunction with the acting criminal head, who also used to work in my old office. so if it's true that the southern district of new york has taken over this part of the investigation based on a referral from bob mueller's office, it's being done because people think it's serious, warranted and there's evidence of a significant enough nature that you'll risk doing something sensitive like raiding a law office. >> at the end of that q & a, the president was answering some questions. he was asked about the special counsel robert mueller. one reporter said, why don't you just fire mueller? he said, i think it's a disgrace what's going on, we'll see what happens. do you think he might fire him? >> i thought all along he mite fi -- might fire him.
but if this portion of the investigation has been lopped off and lies in new york, and i will continue to respect the absolute independence of that office, that is not something you can shut down so easily, no matter who you remove from that office. they're on their third u.s. attorney in 13 months. >> we'll see where it goes next. preet, thank you very much. that's it for me. "erin burnett outfront" starts right now. ♪ ♪ this is cnn breaking news. >> good evening, i'm erin burnett. "outfront" tonight, it's an extraordinary evening. developments unfolding as i speak. the fbi raiding the office of trump's personal lawyer, michael cohen, the agents armed with multiple search warrants and we understand there were up to a dozen of those agents, seizing e-mails, tax documents, business records, and other