President Trump ‘less inclined’ to sit down with special counsel for interview after raid on personal attorney: Sources
ABC News(WASHINGTON) — In the wake of an early morning FBI raid on his personal attorney, sources close to President Donald Trump and his legal team say the president is “less inclined” to sit down for an interview with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team.
For the last several months, the Trump legal team has been having active negotiations with the Mueller team working toward a potential interview which would have included either a face to face interview with parameters, a written questionnaire or some mix of both, sources have told ABC News.
Yet in the wake of Monday’s FBI raid on the home and office of Michael Cohen, the president’s longtime personal counsel, multiple sources tell ABC News things might be changing and that the president per one source is “understandably less trusting” of Mueller and his team.
Multiple sources say advisers don’t know how to deal with the president’s frustration and are bracing for what he may do next. One source in close contact with the White House says any and all possibilities are in play.
During a lengthy rant late Monday in the Cabinet Room, the president told reporters the special counsel’s team was the most “conflicted group of people I have ever seen.” The sources emphasize that no final decision on a potential interview by the president with the special counsel’s team has been made, as negotiations continue. The president’s lawyers handling the Russia probe – Jay Sekulow and Ty Cobb – declined to comment.
In late March, Trump said he would sit down for an interview with the Mueller team saying “Sure I would like to. I would like to,” in response to a reporter’s question.
It was just after 7 o’clock Monday morning that FBI agents were dispatched by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York to three locations tied to Cohen – his home, his office in Rockefeller Center and a hotel he was currently staying at on New York’s East Side. It was Mueller’s team that passed information on to the Department of Justice, which referred the matter to the U.S. Attorney’s Office New York, but the raids and investigation are separate from the ongoing investigation into Russia meddling during the 2016 election. It was during this raid that sources tell ABC News agents took personal and financial records dating back as far as 2013. Sources say the search was for evidence of possible bank and wire fraud in addition to possible campaign finance violations. Agents also took documents related Cohen’s dealings with adult film star Stormy Daniels just weeks before the 2016 election, according to multiple sources. Cohen’s personal electronic devices were also seized in Monday’s raid.
Cohen’s attorney Stephen Ryan told ABC News in a statement that the FBI “executed a series of search warrants and seized the privileged communications between my client, Michael Cohen, and his clients. I have been advised by federal prosecutors that the New York action is, in part, a referral by the Office of Special Counsel, Robert Mueller.”
The purpose of the raid remains unclear. Cohen has been questioned by lawmakers as part of a separate congressional probe. During that questioning, sources have told ABC News, Cohen was asked about a proposal pitched to the Trump Organization during the 2016 campaign to pursue development of a Moscow tower bearing Trump’s name.
Cohen told Trump about the project three times, and said in a statement his lawyer released in August that he reached out to the Kremlin about the proposal before the project was ultimately abandoned. No money changed hands, he said.
In a statement at the time Cohen told ABC News: “The Trump Moscow proposal was simply one of many development opportunities that the Trump Organization considered and ultimately rejected.”
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