- REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
- President Donald Trump is reportedly mulling over firing deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein.
- The New York Times reported Tuesday that Rosenstein personally signed off on a search warrant targeting Trump’s longtime longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen.
- FBI agents raided Cohen’s office, home, and hotel room early Monday morning and seized records, electronic devices, and attorney-client communications between Trump and Cohen.
President Donald Trump is weighing firing deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, CNN reported Tuesday.
Trump has channeled an unprecedented level of anger toward the FBI and Department of Justice officials ever since it emerged that investigators had raided his longtime lawyer’s office, home, and hotel room early Monday morning.
Trump’s reported consideration regarding Rosenstein also comes after The New York Times reported earlier Tuesday that Rosenstein had personally signed off on the search warrant targeting Cohen.
The president’s anger toward Rosenstein has been fueled by some of his legal advisers, who have reportedly argued that they have a strong case to support Rosenstein’s firing. Per CNN, they believe they can successfully prove Rosenstein has overstepped his authority and that he is conflicted because he is also a witness in the Russia investigation, given that he recommended Trump fire FBI director James Comey last year.
Investigators who raided Cohen’s home and office on Monday were not working for Mueller’s office, The Times reported. Instead, they were acting on a referral from Mueller after he likely discovered evidence of possible wrongdoing related to Cohen that did not fall within his purview.
Mueller reportedly informed Rosenstein of what he had found, and Rosenstein decided to refer the information to the US Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York, which subsequently carried out the raids.
Sources told CNN that Trump is weighing several different options in light of the Cohen news, which advisers say has enraged the president beyond any other development in the Russia investigation so far. Those options include going so far as to fire attorney general Jeff Sessions, who recused himself from the Russia probe last year and has since drawn a significant amount of the president’s ire.
Trump’s most likely target is reportedly Rosenstein, though people close to Trump said it’s unlikely he would be satisfied even if he ousted the deputy attorney general.
The Washington Post reported Monday that Cohen is apparently under investigation by the US Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York for bank fraud and violating election law, and that at least part of the investigation relates to a $130,000 payment Cohen made to an adult-film actress in exchange for her silence about an alleged affair with Trump.
Prosecutors are also said to be looking into a $150,000 payment that the publisher of The National Enquirer made to Playboy model Karen McDougal after she claimed to have had an affair with Trump, The Times reported. The head of the publisher is a close friend of Trump’s.
Legal experts said this week that if the investigatons into the matters go forward, prosecutors will likely gain a window into some of the president’s most closely guarded secrets: his personal finances.
Trump warned last year that Mueller would be crossing a “red line” if the special counsel investigated any of his personal finances. On Monday, he indicated that Mueller may have breached that boundary.
According to CNN, the White House has been in touch with congressional Republicans as Trump weighs firing Rosenstein, in order to avoid taking GOP leadership by surprise. A senior administration official told CNN a top congressional Republican advised Trump not to oust Rosenstein.