Donald Trump has said lawyers acting for him are “deflated and concerned” about the prospect of having their homes and offices raided in the wake of a criminal investigation into his leading attorney Michael Cohen.
The US president tweeted that “Attorney Client privilege is now a thing of the past” in the wake of the probe into the activities of Mr Cohen, who had his house and office raided by the FBI.
Mr Cohen is seeking a temporary restraining order in regards to the materials found during the operations, which followed a referral by Special Counsel Robert Mueller – who is looking into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow as part of a wider investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
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“I have many (too many!) lawyers,” lamented Mr Trump, “and they are probably wondering when their offices, and even homes, are going to be raided with everything, including their phones and computers, taken. All lawyers are deflated and concerned!”
Former US Attorney Preet Bharara responded to Mr Trump’s Sunday morning twitter tirade by arguing the world leader did not have a proper grasp of the definition of attorney-client privilege.
“I don’t think that Donald Trump has a decent understanding of what the attorney-client privilege is and how it can be pierced,” he said on CNN.
Mr Bharara also dismissed Mr Trump’s notion that all lawyers are “deflated” by saying he was was not.
Mr Trump’s tweet comes as Stormy Daniels attorney Michael Avenatti revealed she will attend Mr Cohen’s court hearing on Monday at 2pm in New York.
“It is intended to send the message that this is a very, very serious matter for her and she wants to make sure that the American people know she is behind efforts to bring to light as much information and documents as possible,” Mr Avenatti said on CNN.
Mr Trump has expressed outrage at FBI raids on the law office and hotel suite of his personal lawyer. He has branded the special counsel investigation a “witch hunt” and tweeted “Attorney-client privilege is dead!”
Reports in the media have suggested agents confiscated documents relating to Mr Cohen’s bank records, business records and communications with the 2016 Trump campaign. The warrant referenced a possible investigation into wire fraud, bank fraud and campaign finance. Mr Cohen has denied any wrongdoing.
This comes just after it was revealed Mr Cohen is trying to prevent the government from using materials found in FBI raids of his office and residence.
A Justice Department spokesperson said Mr Cohen is seeking a temporary restraining order regarding FBI raids on his home, office, and hotel room that happened earlier this week. Monday’s raids followed a referral by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who for nearly a year has been looking into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow as part of a wider investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
At a hearing in the US District Court in Manhattan, Judge Kimba Wood said Mr Cohen’s lawyers had asked on Thursday night to “take the first cut at identifying documents that are relevant or not relevant” to the investigation.
Lawyers for Mr Cohen told the judge that material seized in the raids is safeguarded by attorney-client privilege.