The confiscation of documents by President Trump's FBI chief last week deeply shook the president – which made him long in favor of an interview with special adviser Robert S. Mueller III and urged him to step up his job legal firepower, said people who were familiar with the discussions.
Trump, who had previously expressed a desire to seek special legal advice, changed his opinion of Michael Cohen's lawyer Razzie's Office, Home, and Hotel Room on April 9 (19659003). The president's lawyers are still open to Talks with Mueller's office about the possibility and advisers warn that the president often changes his mind, but his legal department now sees a miller turn out to be less likely.
Trump was annoyed at the seizure of a potentially sensitive correspondence involving works that Cohen ̵
Trump was so upset that he had trouble concentrating on plans that had been prepared that day by his national security team about possible options for targeted missile strike on Syria, and said To his assistants, he was cool on the idea of conducting an interview, said two people who were familiar with his comments, who had spoken on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal consultations.
Following lawyer John Dowd's resignation last month, the president's legal team consists mainly of Ty Cobb, the white house lawyer who investigated the investigation, and Jay Sekulow, Trump's personal lawyer on Russia. Trump and his advisors expect the legal team to expand by the end of this week, one person familiar with the discussions.
President Trump beckons as he arrives at Air Force One in West Palm Beach, Florida. , On Monday. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP)
Both Sekulow and Cobb did not comment on Tuesday.
Trump's team has contacted Robert C. Bonner, a former federal judge and former member of the administration of President George W. Bush, to represent Trump, two people who were familiar with the operation said. Bonner, a former Customs and Border Protection Commissioner, is tasked with establishing a consolidated government approach to securing America's borders in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Unlike other lawyers, the Trump team approached its role as a partner in Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in 2008, and thus need not worry about potential objections from legal partners that could prevent them from taking the job ,
Bonner declined to comment on his status as a potential candidate for Trump's representation.
On the day the news of the Cohen raid broke last week, Sekulov and other Trump advisors were in a preparatory meeting for a scheduled afternoon meeting at the Special Adviser's office to discuss the final terms for a potential interview to negotiate with the president.
In this October 23, 2015, file photo, Jay Sekulow speaks at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Sekulow represents President Trump in Russia probe. (Steve Helber / AP)
Sekulow and Cobb had voted to meet Trump for a limited interview with Mueller's team on four predefined topics, hoping to accelerate the completion of the probe into the President's actions.
But The Raid alarmed and upset Trump and led to a tense afternoon meeting between Trump's counselor and Mueller's team, according to a person familiar with the talks. The president considered the raid on his personal lawyer a breach of friendly cooperation between his team and Müllers investigators and quickly turned to them, another person said.
"That has greatly reduced the team's confidence," said the first person familiar with the president's reaction to the raid.
Mark Corallo, a former spokesman for Trump's legal department, said that unexpected raids such as those carried out against him "are generally reserved for mafia donkeys and drug kings."
"It's not every day that you see no-kock search warrants by a federal judge for a lawyer and a law firm in business matters," Corallo said. "I do not know how serious it is for President Trump, but it's very serious for Michael Cohen."
Mueller's team had not previously mentioned that the investigators focused on Cohen, which would not be expected from a pending raid. The Special Defender's office had referred his findings about Cohen confidentially to the US Attorney's Office in the southern district of New York.
This office carried out the raids last Monday after several months of investigating Cohen for possible banking fraud, fraud and election campaign violations. A search warrant indicated that the investigation focused on Cohen's role in curbing potential negative publicity for Trump during the campaign and payments made during the campaign to women claiming to have affairs with Trump.
In recent days, Trump has grown increasingly excited, ranting against members of his besieged team, said someone who was familiar with the situation. The president was also personally involved in the search for new members of the legal department and have made phone calls on possible additions, said this person.
There is a growing sense that Trump's attorneys are not prepared for the rigors and challenges still to come in the Mueller trial, although James Schultz, a former Trump administration lawyer who now works at the law firm of Cozen O & M. # 39; Connor works, declined
"I did not see any indication that they were overwhelmed by the work," Schultz said. "You do not seem overwhelmed to me."
In Trump's environment, concern for the attack on his lawyer is mainly focused on what is not known when dealing with Cohen, whose reputation was for Trump's dirty work. A White House employee described Trump as upset with what he saw as a violation of the lawyer's secret.
Trump's attorney team had problems for weeks bringing additional lawyers into his ranks.
An outside consultant who talked about the condition of anonymity to discuss internal counseling, said Trump is upset that he has not been able to attract top-notch lawyers, but he has long struggled in business to good lawyers because he is underpaid and sometimes pays late. He is also a difficult client, added the consultant.
New York attorney Marc Kasowitz, who helped Trump with economic disputes and was the original leader of the president's Russian legal defense, is still involved in Trump's team and has helped find new lawyers in the US, two said Situation familiar people.
Corallo said that while he believes that the president deserves first-rate representation, he also understands the particular challenges Trump faces.
"I think the President of the United States, no matter what you think of him, deserves the best legal talent he can get, and I think many of the big law firms have not been struck with fame when they do Presidents did not say, "he said. "On the other hand, I understand why many high-ranking lawyers do not want to take over the case."
Legal struggles have persecuted Trump's presidency. Between January 2017 and March 31, 2018, the Trump campaign paid $ 4 million in legal fees to 13 law firms and Trump Corp., a company run by two older Trump sons. The bulk of the fees – approximately $ 2.7 million – went to Jones Day, a law firm representing Mueller's and several congressional committees in Russian interference in the 2016 elections.
The re-election campaigns of incumbent presidents would normally spend fewer lawyers fees in a non-private cycle, hiring one or two law firms for ongoing compliance requirements of the campaign's finances, said Brett Kappel, a Washington election campaign financial lawyer. Problems associated with campaign financing or personnel issues are usually resolved within a year or less, Kappel said.
However, since January 2017, the 2020 presidential campaign has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars each on law firms representing the president's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., Cohen, and the president in investigating special advisers, as well as a new legal challenge from an adult Movie star, Federal Election Commission records show.
Although spending is particularly high, nothing is illegal about the use of campaign resources. Under the federal election laws, campaigns can fund all expenditures related to their candidacy or activities that took place during the exercise of the elected office.
Rosalind S. Helderman, Alice Crites, Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Anu Narayanswamy have contributed to this report.