Former US Attorney Preet Bharara said Monday that the FBI raids of Michael Cohen’s office and hotel room were done by officials who were all “handpicked” by President Donald Trump.
“If the reporting is true, particularly the part about this being approved by the Southern District of New York Attorney’s Office which I used to lead, are all people who are Republican, and all people who have basically been handpicked by Donald Trump,” Bharara, now a senior CNN legal analyst, said on “The Situation Room.”
Earlier, Trump slammed the raids affecting his personal attorney as a “disgraceful situation” and “an attack on our country.” A White House official said Trump had been watching TV reports, and that the President knew about the raid before the news broke.
The Monday raids included the Loews Regency hotel where Cohen has been staying, according to a source familiar with the matter. There were approximately a dozen FBI agents involved, the source said.
“For folks who don’t appreciate this, to do a search on an attorney’s files, residence, office – that’s a very sensitive thing that requires the personal approval of the United States attorney himself in consultation with main Justice,” Bharara said.
Stephen Ryan, a lawyer for Cohen, said in a statement that the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York had executed “a series of search warrants” and “seized the privileged communications” between Cohen and his clients. Ryan called the search “completely inappropriate and unnecessary,” and said federal prosecutors had told him it stemmed partially from a referral by the office of special counsel Robert Mueller.
Bharara commented on the significance of the execution of the raid by the FBI, and the fact that it was conducted by the the Southern District of New York.
“It’s being done because people think it’s very serious, people think it’s totally warranted and people think there’s evidence of a significant enough nature that you’re going to risk doing something sensitive like raiding a law office,” Bharara said.